Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New twist on familiar theme

Original ideas are tough to come by. So I’m always intrigued by the spin authors put on familiar themes.

I’ve read a number of novels constructed around multiple personalities.

Frequently the persona comes to life in response to a great trauma. Often the novel’s conflict is on the desire to unite various personalities. Sometimes the reader isn’t even aware that the persona is in fact a manifestation of the main character.

I’ve enjoyed a number of these stories over the years. But I’ve never read one from quite the perspective of debut novelist Brian DePeeuw’s “In This Way I Was Saved” (ISBN 9781439103135).

DePeeuw introduces us to 6-year-old Luke, son of the soon-to-be-divorcing James and mentally unstable Claire. Daniel “befriends” Luke on the playground and the two are instantly inseparable.

Is Daniel Luke’s protector? Is he the part of Daniel able to act on certain desires? Why did he connect with Luke on that day?

Or is Daniel something far more insidious?

“I wanted to tell her who I was now, but I didn’t know how to begin. She would look at me and she would see Luke; not only that, but she would see a Luke who had lost his grasp on himself, a Luke deluded and desperate.”

Though the story is told from Daniel’s point of view, DePeeuw reveals all his characters in snippets, showing us just a bit more of Claire and of Luke and even of Daniel to make us keep questioning what we thought we knew.

He certainly left me wondering.

- Tricia Ambrose

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