It was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years. When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.
BookSparks’ University Fall Reading Challenge continues with Jonathan Friesen’s YA novel, Both of Me. Today’s course is Personality Psychology. I wanted to read this book because of the cover (pretty stars!) and because Elias sounded like a very interesting character. There are so many possibilities when a character has two different personalities. After reading the book, I’m not sure what I think. The story made me sad.
Both of Me is a bizarre tale about a series of coincidences that coincide with the delusions of a crazy boy. But, who is the crazy person? Elias, with his dual personality, or Clara, who follows him? Clara is so filled with guilt she sees her Great Undoing in the sketches of a boy she has just met and is willing to do anything in order to discover what he knows. Elias spends half of his time intent on completing a secret mission in his imaginary world and the rest of his time just trying to hang on to his sanity. If this was an adult novel, the story could have been deep and powerful, but as a YA book, it merely skims the surface.
I wish Elias’ imaginary world would have been developed more. A big deal is made about characters wanting to spend time in “Salem”, but the place is only an idea not a world that comes to life like Alice’s Wonderland. While Elias talks about Salem, the reader never really goes there. Also, I never understood Clara’s motivation for following Elias. Random sketches? Cute, disturbed guy? While this would normally annoy me, I think Clara’s vague reasons work for her because she is just as confused as the reader. I spent half the book wondering if maybe she was the crazy one…
If you like YA fiction and stories that deal with mental disorders, Both of Me is definitely a book to check out.
You can find out more about Jonathan Friesen on his website or follow him on Twitter.
This book was sent to me for review and is part of the BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge.