As I’ve mentioned a few times, I have quite a few reviews that I haven’t shared yet and I’ve decided to try and make sure I don’t miss any and start sharing in alphabetical order (apart from some that I had booked for certain dates). I’m working on several projects that I’ll tell you more about when I can (most of them don’t depend only on me) but in the meantime, I’ll share reviews when I can and I’ll keep up with reblogs of interesting things I see on my other blog.
And here, first on the list…
20 by Vatsal Surti
The story of a troubled young model and an introspective writer, 20 is a novel about loneliness, love, hopes and dreams.
One night as she is driving back home from a show, she almost runs over someone. She holds her breath, and through the fog, they see each other for the first time. Love begins to form in the space between them, in precognitions and thoughts, lights and intimacies. Seasons change. They come to know more things about themselves and each other. Life wraps them in its embrace like a haze, in a vacant space bigger than their eyes can see.
Fans of Haruki Murakami will enjoy this atmospheric and deeply felt debut from Vatsal Surti, who was described by an Amazon HALL OF FAME reviewer as “a young author to observe.”
About the author:
Vatsal Surti is a US-based author who writes about the interconnections of humans.
His novella, To Desire, written when he was 17, was described by Kirkus Reviews as “poetic” with “engaging thoughts about the meaning of life and death.”
He wrote his first novel, 20, at the age of 20. His other work includes On Love, a small collection of short stories and prose poems published in 2013.
Thanks to Net Galley and to Hybrid Texts for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely choose to review. They were also conscientious enough to inform me that an updated version was available, that is the one I review.
This novel is like a confessional/stream of consciousness diary of a young woman, a fashion model who lives alone and who records her thoughts, feelings and impressions over time. The book is divided into chapters and follow the seasons, but as we spend most of the time inside the head of the protagonist (although the story is written in the third person) sometimes, as we all do in our own minds, she might go back and forth in time, and other times, due to illness, substances and her state of mind, we don’t know if something she’s experiencing is happening at all in the real world. There are also fragments of the book told from the point of view of a young man she meets, whom she falls in love with, but these are not many.
Despite the beauty of the language, I found it a bit difficult to engage with the story (that is not really a story). Perhaps it is, as some reviewers have commented, partly the fact of not knowing the name of the main protagonist or her beloved. We get to know the name of Natasha, a friend who invites her to live with her, but we don’t know much about her. We don’t know where she is, know little about who she is, and her circumstances. I imagine it might be an attempt at universalizing the story, but most readers enjoy living other lives, even if completely different to theirs, rather than a very subjective but somewhat blank one.
What I thought at times while I read the book was that I remembered having similar thoughts and feelings when I was an adolescent, at a time when everything feels new, unique, and we believe nobody has ever gone through similar experiences or knows what we’re going through. Everything is measured by how it affects us and we live inside a bubble of our own making that few things can pierce. In the case of the protagonist she suffers a very traumatic event that depresses her (although it seems to be more a matter of degree rather than the nature of the emotions she experiences, as some of her thoughts were very similar before the said event) but in a way it seems to help shake her up and realise what life is really about.
To give you a taster of the language, here I share a couple of sentences I highlighted:
A few miles above them, a plane took off, breaking the sky that had begun falling to night once again, like love inside youth.
Her eyelids closed, and behind them, her eyes shone like stars.
In summary, a book that requires a very special type of reader, and that I suspect will connect better with younger readers (YA, NA). Not a book recommended for those interested in a good story and engaging plot, but for those who enjoy descriptive, subjective and sensuous writing.
Thanks to NetGalley, to the authors and the publisher, thanks to you for reading and yes, like, share, comment and CLICK!