Monika’s Musings

miscellaneous tidbits on marketing, advertising, and life in general

“Life would be fine if we didn’t have to live it every day.” Unless there were more books like Chasing Kate

January12

If I could give you one piece of heart-felt advice at the beginning of 2012, it would be to buy Kelly Byrne’s debut novel Chasing Kate. I basically devoured the book in one breath and just finished it a couple of hours ago. In tears. And the thing about me is … I don’t cry.

I really want to write a good review about it since I honestly do not remember the last book, which had such an effect on me. But at the same time, I am a little nervous; as I am afraid my writing couldn’t possibly do the book its due justice.

If I could sum it up in one sentence it would be: Every sentence is a pleasure. Kelly Byrne’s writing is like an endorphin for those minds that seek pleasure in the written word as such. Every single word is in its right place; nothing left to be desired. Her style is smart, honest, in your face (in a good way), daring. She will have you almost in tears and then all out of a sudden, when you least expect it, she’ll have you laugh out loud wherever you are [in my case, an open-space bank office]. And then she’ll have you in tears again. Resistance is futile. The book is just a wee bit predictable – so much that the reader feels a virtual pat on the back from the author, as if Byrne was saying Good job, you’re fallowing right along. But then every chapter has a twist and takes you by surprise. My personal favorite is the silent commentary that Kate does on everything that happens. Which made me laugh. Every time. To add to that, there are several sentences in the book after which you just have to take a minute to take a breath. There was one about validation of loss that screamed so true and loud that it made my whole body tremble (I won’t quote it on purpose in order not to ruin it, but you’ll know exactly what I am talking about when you get there).

The book follows a young disturbed woman called Kate [Katie, Kathryn, Bits] and a five-year old wonder, who inserts itself uninvited into Kate’s life, named Sadie Beck. The cocktail contains vodka, setting ex’s garages on fire, kidnapping2, fear, lust and a very unexpected friendship.

Kate is totally my type. She is a messed-up 28-year old who has come to accept (without really accepting it) that inner peace is not her thing. To say the least. The girl has gone through a lot and does not have it in her to forgive others’ mistakes. Quite the contrary: she sets stuff on fire.

Then despite her best efforts, a five-year old worldly angel with ginger pigtails installs itself into her runaway jeep. Enter Sadie [and my God, what an entrance it is!]. At first, I felt a little resentment at the almost-instant love Kate developed for Sadie. See, in life as well as in art, I am a sucker for the badass girl – the one who drinks and drives, who scratches the hell out of collectible items for the sake of revenge, who will start a fire without having her jeans on. The one who has her shit together. Except that she doesn’t. My resentment lasted all of two pages before I gave in to Sadie’s’ magic. See, Sadie is the type of kid which people like me, who don’t want to have kids, actually want to have. And I could see that my selfish desire for entertainment was not fair on Kate – she couldn’t possibly continue on living like this – with open-ended unanswered questions, self-destructive and detrimental to others.

Her care for Sadie, whom she inadvertently kidnapped, is touching. The badass runaway makes it her first priority to save Sadie, all the while being completely oblivious to the fact that Sadie is the one doing all the saving.

Their relationship is very special as well: it reminds me of another favorite book of mine: The Time Traveler’s Wife. Often one feels like Sadie is Kate from a past life who traveled through time. She knows things she shouldn’t; she brings out all those things Kate does not have the strength to confront.

Both the characters have incredible depth: you feel like you’ve known Kate all your life and Sadie – she feels so real that when she cries on paper you actually feel her warm tears on your skin. Her magic is that in her grief she manages to laugh so truthfully that she soothes all your troubles. Hell, I’d kidnap her, too.

Another reader said in her review on Amazon “I would urge everyone with a heart to buy this.” I completely second that. Best couple of bucks you’d spend this time of year.