Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: THE STRANGE YEAR OF VANESSA M. by Filipa Fonseca Silva

"Is life really that much easier for men?...As long as he's got that just-out-the-shower smell about him, a man with disheveled hair and unshaven chin is sexy. A woman with disheveled hair, with no time to wax her legs, is a slattern who ought to be ashamed to show her face in the street." (LOC 27)

Vanessa is just plain bored of the tedium of everyday life. With work, family, chores, and the spectacle of the people around her, she wonders if jail would've been a lot better. I like her already!

"The car is becoming an expression of all the rage and anguish we accumulate over the course of the day. Our eyes glaze over as we accelerate away from traffic lights we thought would never change. We stamp on the brake with the same fury we'd like to stamp on the people who drive us crazy. We honk as if the noise that fills the street was the shout we have to suppress. We think we're untouchable, invincible in our metal fortresses, where we don't hear the insults, or smell the smells of other people, where the urbane grime can't infect us." (LOC 59)

Vanessa is suffocating by it all! And she begins to wonder what life would be like if she were orphaned, single, with no kids, and being able to do whatever--to be absolutely free!

Vanessa comes up with thought-provoking questions like, why can't we tell a friend we don't want them in our lives anymore? I found myself agreeing with her a lot.

The big question: Was this life then? Really, was this it?

This then causes Vanessa to run off, leaving everyone without a word, and stay with her eccentric, hippie aunt out in the middle of nowhere. Very bold! Then she briefly returns to her lackluster life--husband, daughter, job, mother, therapist--before she says "forget this" and takes off, leaping into her one year of absolute freedom.

Story is about regret and sadness with a cynically comical twist. It's about losing so much control of your life that you feel numb. Vanessa shows readers that what was lost can be regained. It's all about seizing the moment--Carpe Diem!

This novel is totally relatable. At some point, we all feel overwhelmed by it all--a husband you can't stand, a child you never wanted, a job you hate--and we begin to wonder why we go through it. Vanessa is an inspiration and a true model of "living the world inside you."

My rating: 4 stars

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