Wow! This was such a feast for my eyes and mind!
My thoughts after finishing the book: SO GOOD! I didn’t even have time to mark it as currently-reading, this is how lost into the story I’ve been. One of the best books I’ve read in quite a while!
Romance aside, this story is about people.. All kinds of people in all kinds of scenarios, with different lives and in different environments. It’s the most wonderful book about what it means to be human.
It takes you on a journey around the world not physically but emotionally, it travels through space and bodies and it talks about so many taboo subjects that you can’t even imagine.. This, my dears, it’s a real piece of art!
“I wake up thinking of yesterday.
The joy is in remembering; the pain is in knowing it was yesterday.”
You can learn a lesson from almost every chapter, you can be in the body (and somehow even the mind) of all kinds of people, struggling with their problems, creating others, trying to fix the unfixable or to keep untouched the precious moments in their lives.
You learn that actions have always consequences, that when you change things you have to assume the responsibility for doing so; you get glimpses into the head of so many types of people and at the end of the day not only you can learn a thing or two from it, but you can really become a better person.
It’s not that the concept is entirely original (I remember seeing when I was young a movie series quite similar to this) but the amount of research needed for this story and the perfection with which it has been implemented turns this book into a real gem. It’s fresh, it’s well written, it is addictive and so full of precious content.
There are few books that have left an imprint on my life; this is definitely one of those.
I love this guy – I mean the author – he is so smart and open. He talks about so many things with conviction, but without trying to make you believe the things he does; he gives you the good and the bad in all situations and I must confess that reading this book (and being just for a bit in his mind while doing so) felt really, really good.
Now about the characters…
I’ll start with A and Rhiannon.
As you should know from the book description A (which is a name, by the way) does not have a body. He is just a soul spending each day in a different body. We think of him as a boy but in fact he has no gender, and each day he can be a boy or a girl, having no control over where his soul might wake up in the next morning. He doesn’t know why it happens, so don’t try to find out because this is not what this story is about.
All days are similar – he wakes up, tries to find out what he can about the person he has to be that day, and tries not to mess up things for that person, because the lives he lives are borrowed and he has no right to ruin them.
I only have a day to give – so why can’t it be a good one?
One day is different though. He is impersonating one guy called Justin and falls in love with his girlfriend. Justin is not a good person and he is not good for/to Rhiannon, but wouldn’t A want to be Justin for the rest of his life? Wouldn’t he want to wake up in the morning and still be here, wouldn’t he want to have Rhiannon in his life forever?
It’s a day that changes him, it’s a day that changes everything.. And so the story starts..
For you it might feel like A starts liking Rhiannon too quickly, it might feel like insta love, but try to picture A’s life, try to imagine a life when every single day is different, a life where you meet a person today but you might never be given a second chance.. How long it would take for you to give away your heart, how long it will take for you to fall in love?
Day by day A. gains more information about her, he tries to see her again and with everything he learns about her day after day he gets to care more, to truly love her – for the way she thinks, she acts, she feels.
My life doesn’t add up to anything. Except for an afternoon, it did.
Truth being told, all A needed was to belong, he needed something palpable in his life and so he found Rhiannon.
She is for him a symbol of everything he can’t have. It seemed like love at first sight, but in his world that’s the only kind of love he can get. There is no way to meet again someone and to relive a day such that he could fall in love in the usual way. So I didn’t mind him focus all his attention on this girl that has stolen his heart and that he can’t possibly have because every day he becomes someone else.
In a way, this is how Romeo and Juliet should play around in our days (the concept, not the Shakespearian play), with the entire universe against our sweet couple. Some will love their story, some probably won’t, but don’t think about the whole book as a romance, because you’ll be missing a lot… that’s the reason all this started, yes, but there are many other amazing things about it that will steal your heart.
This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be.
There were so many other characters that are worth talking about, so many destinies that A changed, so many lessons to learn from. There were happy moments, and sad ones, there are tons of quotes that will make an impression for sure, there are so many great ideas hidden between the pages, the lines, the words in this book.. Nothing feels like it has been ‘spilled’ at random in this sea of magical thoughts, and there are not enough words in the world for me to tell you how wonderful this story was to me.
I loved the stories of every person A impersonates during his travel..
Drug addict, fat person, geek, gay, transgender, homeschooled, mean girl, rock boy, suicidal girl (and so on, and on, and on) – there was a selected group of people that can/will leave an impact on you. You might not relate to any of them, but you can understand them all. They all speak through A.’s voice and you might ask yourself if this is the author telling you life-changing stories, or the characters are really alive talking to you – they are so realistically portrayed.
I remember a chapter that I liked a lot: There was a drug addict that needed badly to take a doze and A kept fighting it, fighting his body’s needs, he tried to stay focused, to think of a way to make it through the day, he tried not to let the body win.. It was such an emotional chapter and it gave insights into the power of the mind, something I’ve thought about over the time.
On each day, either the body was weighting on A, or the feelings were pressing on him. He could feel the sorrow, the despair, the addiction but also the happiness, the calm, the hope and the love… It was such a beautiful orchestra of emotions playing in front of you – one that you can focus on each individual instrument and their beautiful, heartwarming music.
There are also references regarding morality, some social issues are talked about and even Christian beliefs are considered. Every scene has its own emotion, every person gives you something to think about, every moment is important because there’s always some meaning behind the tale.
And because I don’t know in how many other words to tell you that I loved this book to pieces, I will simply end on a nice note:
“I turn back. I keep turning back to see her. Even when there are walls between us. Even when there are miles between us. I keep turning back. I keep turning in her direction”
…Just like I’ll always turn back to this story.
Note: The Romanian version of the review can be found here.
Placebo – Running Up That Hill