Jun 162011

Awake by Elizabeth Graver
Rating: 3/5
Source: Personal collection
Links: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads, Author’s website

Anna is the mother of Max, who has a rare genetic disease called xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) that results in light causing extreme pain and cancer. So he lives in the dark, and she does too, while her husband and other son thrive in the daylight. Attending an XP summer camp seems to a way to help Max experience a slice of normal life. But given the chance to relax, Anna is drawn to the camp founder.

When I first started reading this, I thought I’d get a chance to learn about XP. I only learned the bare bones because Max’s story is not the focus. This story is all about Anna, who goes through a midlife crisis, depression, and commits infidelity, with all its repercussions.

The writing itself was beautiful. There were lots of beautiful phrases and descriptions. Very dreamy and image evoking. Which makes sense when you consider the story is told from the viewpoint of an artist. As I was reading, I kept thinking that the book was gray. If a book could be represented by a colour, this one would be grey, in all its varying shades. There is very little joy or happiness, mostly sadness and depression, which I guess I see as gray.

As a character, Anna was very self-absorbed and selfish, which I associated with a midlife crisis. She can’t see past the mundane details of her life, and how unhappy she is. The only thing she seems to be able to think of is her desire to escape. This leads to bad decisions, and hurt feelings all around.

There were some graphic sex scenes, but not in the steamy, passionate sense. Fitting with the overall feel of the book, the scenes were factual and stark, which made them seem more vulgar.

Overall, this is not a light read. It is dark and depressing, and leaves a slightly bad feeling in your mouth. But if you look at the writing itself, it’s beautiful. Quite a contrast filled book.

  4 Responses to “Awake”

  1. For a very rare disease I've seen a lot of books that deal with XP.

  2. Really? This is the first book I've read that mentioned XP.

  3. What a beautiful cover. I don't think I'll be adding it to my wish list though – I like my books with a little less depression/sadness – well at least a balance of light and dark! Great review.

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

  4. Thanks for sharing today. Sometimes dark is good, but today I need a little light and fight.

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