Thursday, February 9, 2012

First You Try Everything

First You Try Everything, by Jane McCafferty.

He looked surprisingly good and sometimes didn't recognize his reflection when he passed by glass storefronts. A man in his prime with dark wavy hair, his long stride more confident than he felt. He passed others on the street dressed like him, headed to offices, and felt affiliated in a way he'd never imagined possible when he and Evvie had set themselves apart from all this, working the pushcart four hours a day, proud to be out of the mainstream. They'd been like travelers, even though they'd never gone anywhere.

This was the first novel of Jane McCafferty's that I have read, and although the writing and the characters themselves are very vivid, I wasn't a huge fan of the book. We have Evvie, short for Evangeline, who doesn't seem to realize that her husband, Ben, is becoming emotionally attached to another woman. He leaves her and she started to unravel, both physically and mentally. The chapters in the book are labeled "Evvie" and "Ben," and they switch back and forth, for the most part, and whenever Evvie's chapters came up, they read almost like stream of consciousness writing; near the end of the book, Ben wants to commit Evvie to a mental hospital, and I wholeheartedly agree with this decision.

Evvie almost reminds me of Jess (Zooey Deschanel's character) from the TV show New Girl, because of her quirkiness, but unfortunately she has a host of other bad personality traits that I didn't like either. Ben's chapters are a little more sane and provide more consistency, and are definitely easier to read.

The ending - or, more accurately, the part right before the end - of the novel is crazy, and a little strange too: Evvie hires two men she meets on a bus to "fake-kidnap" her and Ben, as they claim that this helps reunite couples 90-95% of the time. They pull an (unloaded) gun on them when Evvie is visiting Ben at his workplace, and although it was Evvie's choice to put herself and Ben in that situation, and her reasonings and mental state are explained, it doesn't make the situation any less bizarre. She later confesses to Ben that it was she who put them in this position, after they are out of the situation and "safe," and it certainly doesn't help her case for winning him back.

2 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this novel to review. All opinions listed, however, are my own.

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