Whew! This little book was a ride. Clocking in at only 190 pages, our story follows Amanda, an architect with a happy, boring life that she loves. She’s a young, married professional with a nice loft and an aspiring future until little things start happening…..hearing noises, a sudden desire to start smoking, unexplained purchases, an intense need to steal….but things still easily explained away, or so Amanda thinks.
Gran’s delightfully minimal style weaves us through the mind of a woman unraveling. Told in the first person, Amanda tracks her own descent into madness, first with off-hand wonderment, and slowly, very slowly with the horrid understanding that she’s being possessed. Gran’s choice to tell us this tale from Amanda’s perspective means we’re never quite sure if Amanda is reliable or not, and while Gran makes it abundantly clear who is talking in who’s head, Amanda’s grasp of her world slips slowly and ambiguously away as the possession becomes more intense.
I thoroughly enjoyed the not-knowing, as Gran effortlessly constructs a reliable unreliability in her characters’ ability to suspend their own disbelief about the world around them. Amanda makes excuses, as do the others in her life who watch her spiral more continuously out of control. Amanda finds herself the victim, the passenger pulled along on an unwanted ride, the passive viewer, the possessed. But on the other hand, Amanda is given several outs throughout the story and never takes them. She visits spiritualists, but doesn’t take their advice. She sees a counselor, but doesn’t stay. She has options that she doesn’t take, and in the end, Gran leaves it up to us to decide how Amanda becomes not Amanda.
The narration is beautifully balanced on a knife’s edge for 190 pages, and the discomfort of teetering from one side to the other kept me riveted for the whole story.
4 stars for an enjoyably uncomfortable ride!