Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts on Fault Line by Christa Desir

Out today is one of the single most impacting books I’ve read: Fault Line by Christa Desir. I first read this one a good while ago. Actually, I’ve read it twice. And both times, I was a raw, emotional mess afterwards. This entire time, though, I’ve yet to really figure out how to accurately explain what this book has done to me. So this is less of a review, and more of my thoughts (or rambles?) about it.

As a reader, I admittedly had a few problems with it (some of which have been fixed since I read it that first time). The particular style of this one is rapid, quick scenes, done with a specific purpose and intent from Christa, is a style that I, personally, have a hard time with. And that’s okay. I know why she did it, and after a certain point, my having a harder time falling into the book, into the narrative due to the rapidly shifting scenes, didn’t matter. Because I was invested. I also went into this one knowing what was going to happen to Ani. Specifically. So I admit, part of me was waiting for that to happen. Yes, I understood I needed to see Ani and Ben fall for each other, I needed to see their good times to appreciate and understand their bad. But I was antsy.

Then that bad thing happened, and talk about an abrupt shift. Whether intentional or not, the entire shift in emotional atmosphere, in focus, in interest, completely flipped. Now, those rapid scenes were wonderful, because it meant I got to move to the next one that much quicker, to find out what would happen, if not just Ben but Ani would be okay. If Ben and Ani would be okay together.

That was me as a reader. As a writer, I understood why so much of this book is like it is. I utterly adore this ending. Christa’s mentioned she’s made some edits to the ending – “To clarify, the ending didn't change. It just got fuller, as it were. It's still open and sort of broken. Don't worry.” But this ending. It’s the culmination of every hope, worry, thought, and feeling I had reading this one. The writer in me had so much respect for Christa ending the book where she does, for being so honest to her characters, to the stories.

The person in me was eviscerated.

I love painful endings. Bittersweet. Unhappy. Less than perfect. Those are my favorite endings, even if every time, I automatically think about what if these characters did get a happy ending? Even if there’s a piece of me that is instantly angry these people who don’t even exist went through all this, and still didn’t come out okay. But once that moment passes for me, every time, I fall into this huge appreciation, even love, of these painful endings. This one was no different.

I remember the final scene of this book in vivid detail. I still remember how hard it hit me. How literally wrung out I felt. I wanted Ben to be okay. Yes, I wanted Ani to be okay, but Ben broke me.

Ben, this somewhat of a cocky mess of a teenage boy who is still sweet and genuine and kind. This boy who loves his girlfriend, in spite of what happens to her. In spite of how she reacts afterwards. Who does his best. Holy crap does he try so hard for. For them. He believes he can fix her, he can be what she needs.

And this is the beauty, to me, of this book. The reason I love it so, so, so incredibly much and so deeply. Because it’s Ben’s story, as much as Ani’s. Because Ani doesn’t come out okay, but neither does Ben. Because rape touches more than the victim, it touches those around that person. There is a certain kind of hell that comes with being the one on the outside, so to speak. Being helpless. In doing whatever you can, but knowing, in the end, you can't save that person.

Oh, how Christa has captured that. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of that final scene, of when everything hits Ben, of his reactions, his actions. Of all those sweet moments in the early part of the book. Of the painful ones after what happens. Of the still sweet ones that filter in, those moments of hope. Of the things Ben does, good or bad, leading up to that final scene.

The other reason this book is so high up on my everyone must read list is how many layers there are, intentionally or not. How much it made me rethink rape, in a way. Rethink the impact on those around the victim. How far those metaphorical ripples actually reach.

How completely painful it is when everything you do to try to help maybe doesn’t matter.

And how completely not okay the boyfriend of that victim can come out of this being. And how okay, to me, it is that Ben isn’t okay. That he didn’t get an HEA with her. That he still hurt, and ached, and suffered. That this was as much a life altering event for him, as it was for Ani.

It’d be easy to say this is Ani’s story. Many writers, I think, would tell her story here. And a valid, painful one it is. But what drew me the most to this book, and what kept me enamored, was that it’s Ben’s story.

I still don’t know how to properly describe everything this book has made me think and feel. How to separate my views on it as a reader, a writer, and a person. Usually, those lines don’t cross nearly as much as they do with this one.

But this book. My lovely readers. It will be painful, it will leave you raw and scarred. It will also hit you hard, in a huge way. It will impact you, and it will be a good thing. No, this isn’t your typical YA book. Yes, it’s short, and the scenes change pretty quickly, having less of a flowing feel to it. Yes, in some ways, at least for me, there’s a distance between the reader and Ani, even before everything happens. Yes, it might be easy to focus on those things instead of the bigger points.

Focus on the big points. Let yourself be there with Ben every step of the way. Look at this book as a person, mixed with a reader, and whatever other category you are, rather than simply as a reader, a reviewer, someone looking to find faults.

To me, this isn’t simply a book, a piece of fiction, something to be read and walked away from.

There have been plenty of books that have impacted me. But this is one that has hit me the hardest, with a long lasting effect. I sincerely hope it does the same to all of you. I hope you give it a try, even if you don’t dig contemp as much. Even if you prefer female narrators. Even if you want the HEA at the end.

Read it anyway.

(And if this wasn’t motivation enough, 50% of proceeds is being donated into the Voices and Faces Project. So buy a copy (it’s under 10 bucks in Kindle right now!) or ask your library to order it.)

About the Book: Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.