Monday, February 27, 2017

Early Review: 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac

Title: 10 Things I Can See from Here 
Author: Carrie Mac 
Publisher: Knopf, Random House 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

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10 Things I Can See from Here offers a realistic look into the life of a young girl suffering from anxiety. It's raw and real and heartbreaking, but it's beautiful. The pacing was different from what I'm used to; it almost felt like I was living the story, because it was very true to life – no big drama or problem to solve, no build-up or climax. This wasn't that kind of story; but once I got used to that, I really enjoyed it. This book is an account of a certain time in the MC Maeve's life and what she's going through and overcoming at this time. Reading it felt like I was actually looking into someone's life, watching for a bit, and then stepping back out. Of course there was some excitement and drama; but it all felt very natural and realistic, almost as if I were reading a memoir. It was definitely a change of pace from what I usually read, and I loved it. 

I confess, I had read some early reviews of this book before beginning it myself; and I noticed some readers mainly took issue with two things: the portrayal of Maeve’s anxiety and what they perceived as insta-love between her and her girlfriend Salix. Everyone is entitled to what they think of a book, but I have to disagree with the popular opinion on this one. First, the focus on anxiety; not everyone's experience is the same, but this really shines a light on some of the things those with anxiety deal with daily and puts things into perspective. It's so important to spread awareness about mental health, and literature is one of the best platforms for that because it enables you to see things through someone else's eyes and become more familiar with what it's like to live with something like this. Some reviewers didn't enjoy the details of Maeve's anxiety and some of the results of it (ie: the statistics of how many people died a certain way, obituaries of real people and the ones she formulated on her own throughout the story, the way she thought through all the things that could go wrong in a certain situation, etc.); but I commend the author for not holding back, for showing the raw truth behind anxiety. Anxiety differs for everyone, just like any mental illness; but there are several aspects that remain the same, and I think it's incredibly important that we talk about these things and understand them rather than avoid them because they make us uncomfortable to read about. I appreciated the reality of this story. 

Secondly, the “insta-love.” That's something I'm turned off by in books, too – but I really don’t believe I would call this insta-love. Yes, there was an instant attraction; but Maeve and Salix took their time going on dates and getting to know each other before things turned more serious. Maeve lives her life preparing for the worst, and that includes the worst in her relationships with others. Her family is far from perfect, she's already suffered heartbreak at the young age of 16, and due to her extreme anxiety she feels incredibly isolated from the rest of the world. But then she meets Salix, and things start to make sense. Things are easier with Salix around, and Maeve is relieved to finally have a person in her life that doesn't make her feel like such an outsider. When you've spent so long trying to fit into a certain mold and be what others deem normal, and then you meet someone that shows you that it's okay to be who you are... it's inevitable that you're going to be drawn to that person, romantically or otherwise. Plus factor in the fact that they're teenagers, and it really isn't too far-fetched. I loved Maeve and Salix's relationship, and it made my heart happy to see someone be what Maeve needed. 

It was also refreshing to have a stepmother character that wasn't unnecessarily hostile toward her stepdaughter; Claire was kind and loving and every bit a second mother to Maeve, and I adored her. Aside from Salix and Claire, I also loved Dan (although I would love to have gotten more scenes with him), Owen and Corbin, and Mr. Hidleman. This book offered several characters to love, and I loved getting to know each one. 

I really enjoyed 10 Things I Can See from Here; the author's writing style was unique and captivating, and the story moved at an easy but enjoyable pace. I look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future. 

Note: Some things to be aware of in this story are language, anxiety triggers, and drug abuse; it's probably a book best suited for teens 16 and up. 

A huge thank-you to the publisher for sending a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
  
© at A Belle's Tales

  

8 comments:

  1. Lovely review, McKenzie. I recently read a book that reminds me of this one: Under a Rose Tainted Sky, it too takes on a girl dealing with severe anxiety and OCD. I appreciate authors trying to call attention to these disorders. I might have to consider this one. I also am glad to hear that the stepmother was a terrific character and a departure from the stereotype.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ms. Heidi! Mom and I have Under a Rose Tainted Sky, and we are looking forward to reading it. I thought 10 Things was done exceptionally well, and the departure from "evil stepmother" was wonderful. I hope you do check this one out :-)

      ~Mckenzie

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  2. Wonderful review Mckenzie! I love that the author took a realistic approach to anxiety and all the struggles that entails. I agree that is super important!

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    1. Thank you so much, Teresa! It definitely is; I respect this author so much for doing that.

      ~Mckenzie

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  3. Sounds like an interesting book. I think it it is important for us to read books that help us understand people- and a lot of people suffer from anxiety disorders. I have people very close to me who have severe anxiety and yet they are very different, so I agree with you that anxiety can look different to people. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Yes, I completely agree; I think that's what bothered me most about the less-than-positive reviews. Everyone is different, and so is every experience with anxiety. Thank you, Ms. Jess :-)

      ~Mckenzie

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  4. Lot's of anxiety books lately, so this was a first person POV? those can be so... interesting but also a bit difficult to read, when you feel like you are stepping into their shoes. Those of us without anxiety I don't think we can compare. Lovely review. I love a good stepparent in books, makes me happy.

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    1. I completely agree; the POV made it very real, and I think it's so important to view the story that way. It was definitely interesting but in a good way :-) Thank you so much, Lily!

      ~Mckenzie

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