Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review of Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

Gosh books can provide such an emotional impulse and Pictures of You definitely ratchets up emotion and thought.  To me the story is foremost about two things.  The different ways in which people perceive relationships with one another and then, most of all, the ways in which we all keep secrets from the ones we love... or thought we loved.  The reasons for those secrets are manifest for many different reasons, whether that be guilt, protection or something else, but the thing is, we all see it from our own perspective, the way in which we might see a picture.  Someone else looks at the same picture (or LIFE situation) through their eye's and sees something different.  That is why we all react differently to the same situation, and while we may be acting in what we feel are the best interests of another, that's virtually impossible, because we only see the picture from our angle. 
I think the book was heartbreaking in a lot of ways, as it follows the main Characters Isabelle, Charlie and Sam throughout the book and tries to give each character's perspective on the accident that kills Charlie's wife and Sam's mom, when Isabelle crashes into Sam and April on a foggy road while each woman is running from their husband.  Lots of book holds HOPE for certain characters but this story seems to have happiness always just out of reach... for everyone.  Even the ending puts happiness at Sam's fingertips... but we don't know if he gets to grasp it or not. 
I don't know if Leavitt intended to "send a message" or not.... but the story really makes me think a great deal about communicating with the people we love and being honest and open, especially when there are important decisions to be made.  Also it made me realize the importance of both WORDS and ACTIONS in expression our love for another in a relationship that is as close as husband and wife... or even parent and child.  Love that stands in just words in empty and Love that stands only in actions is somehow still not tangible and lays out of reach when not supported with words.  I guess I feel the story addresses Love in the way I described how it addresses a sense of hope for the characters earlier.  Maybe I'd have been better served using the word love in that place... as love is always there in these complex relationships, but sometimes it fades and sometimes it is unattainable.  The thing that is omnipresent is that it seems there is a failure to effectively communicate that love or in some cases the loss of love.  Pictures of You is definitely not a "feel good" story, but I think it's really important when trying to understand how people communicate and the idea that there isn't always one way to see something.   The story itself is somewhat difficult to get into at first, but once all the emotional, relationships twist and turn it becomes like a Soap Opera with a message and you can't put it down. 

-- Jon Bear

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