Close to Destiny by Adria Cimino was a breath of fresh air. Most YA authors spend countless hours subtly weaving PSA-style messages into their novel. I’m a sucker for a good story, but I also totally get that I shouldn’t do drugs, have sex or worship Satan without having it subliminally shouted from the rafters in most of the YA books I read.
I really do. It’s getting ridiculous at this point. I’m halfway expecting the back cover of the next book I read to have a cigarette-pack-style warning shouting against whatever cause the author has decided to take up. I wish more writers would start to come around to the idea that having a moral to your story doesn’t necessarily make it better… and in lots of cases it takes away from what would otherwise be an enjoyable read.
So, for me, that’s exactly why Close to Destiny was such an enjoyable read. The author left the parenting to my parents and lesson teaching to my school (where I spend way too much time). She does this while at the same time addressing serious topics that I hear about or in some way face on a daily basis. She gracefully presents the story without judging or taking a position one-way or the other. It’s a novel with some romance, mysticisms and a great story that doesn’t feel like it was assigned for summer reading because it will make me realize that suicide is bad (I’m looking at you, I Was Here).
The book opens as Kat, the main character, is attempting suicide. She’s unsuccessful. The scene is graphic and it’s immediately clear how desperate her situation is. However, what’s not clear is exactly why all this is happening. While she does have a strained relationship with her mother and boyfriend, it’s obvious that there is a lot more to the story.
At the suggestion of her psychiatrist, Dr. Bell, Kat begins painting her feelings on canvas as part of her recovery. When Dr. Bell’s friend, Gwen, notices Kat’s artwork, Kat is invited to London to take part in an exhibit. With nothing making sense at home in New York City, Kat reluctantly accepts the invitation and flies to London to take part in the exhibit.
This is where things start to get weird, like Ghostbusters weird. A naked woman named Destiny visits Kat in the night and whisks her away to a party at the top of her hotel. The party is glamorous and the champagne is flowing yet no one seems to notice that Kat is in her nightgown. As the champagne and laughter go on into the night, Kat is left only with more questions, and, when she wakes up the next morning, she’s not sure whether the experience was a dream or reality.
At first it’s hard to tell where Adria Cimino is going with this. I found myself dreading the moment when the author would take that inevitable turn towards an underlying message, but, thankfully, that turn never happened. In this sense, the story stays pure, which shines a light on seamless transitions between fantasy and reality. Adria told the story without passing judgment on her characters, which is not easy to do.
The story ends after a maze of mystery, a centuries old love affair, and back and forth trips across the pond. The plot connects beautifully in unexpected ways, and was an easy read. I’m now a fan of magical realism and Adria Cimino, and, even though I wish it had lasted longer, I’m glad it ended where it did.
~ Charlotte —Book Chameleon
For purchase below.
For purchase below.