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Friday, December 6, 2013

Cartwheel: A Novel

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois is a novel inspired by real events--although it is truly a work of beauty and care on its own.

Lily Hayes is an enigma. Still practically a child, she flaunts her escapades in front of her family yet is privately conservative. When she is arrested for her roommate's murder while studying abroad in Buenos Aires, her family's lives are turned upside down. Her divorced parents and younger sister rush to her side, with everyone at a loss as to what to do next. As the prosecutor builds his case, two sides of Lily emerge--what people perceive, and who she believes she is. But which is the truth?

This book was intriguing, and I found myself with a furrowed brow quite often. Lily was truly a girl of many faces. I love that duBois really went with that theme in this book; the theme being that we are only whom we are perceived to be was eye-opening and truly terrifying. I think it's fair to say that we all realize this on a subconscious level, but the depth at which duBois explored this understanding in this book is really interesting and though-provoking. See, Lily from her own point of view is misunderstood, desperate for a place in the world, seeking an identity. Shockingly, she is exactly who she is supposed to be in her early 20's. The follies of youth, eh?

Another resonant theme I took out of this novel is how every single thing we do is construed in the light in which people view us. Every single thing that we do on a daily basis can be used against us when viewed through a lens of malice. Lily's email messages about how boring she found her roommate, Katy; her cryptic phone message for her sister in the middle of the night; her lying about having been fired. All of these things could have been completely innocent--Katy was a goody-two-shoes; Lily did, after all, just break up with her boyfriend the night of the phone message and of Katy's murder; and she was embarrassed about having been let go. However, when paired with another suspect's story, all of these are seen as more evidence of the crime. Just living your life and being who you are could result in evidence for the prosecution.

{I will give you time to shiver, then go delete your entire online presence.}

Basically I am telling you that this book is astounding in its depth and resonance at this very place in time in the world. duBois is a beautiful writer whose willingness write a variation on a theme that goes so much more into the psyche of our modern world is worth a read and more than a few thoughts. You just never know...

Hard copy for purchase below.

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