Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review: Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro

I was excited to read this book, but sadly it fell a little flat for me.

A friend lent it to me because we share a mutual love of love stories, and after I made her read If I Stay (and she adored it), she insisted I'd love this one. The story definitely intrigued me - switching between timelines, it tells the tale of Evie as she is at 18 and at 33. At 18, she dreams of being an actress, is best friends with the larger-than-life Robbie and swept up in a passionate affair with wannabe rock star Jake. At 33, she's living in a sharehouse as a single mum, teaching acting classes for amateurs at night and being haunted by the now-dead Robbie. How she went from one to the other is slowly revealed and it's this that kept me reading. I had no problems with the plot, really - but the characters drove me bonkers.

I had high hopes of falling for Jake and being swept away with passion myself, so I was very disappointed to find him extremely unattractive. Oh, sure, he's sexy - but he's also douchebag drug dealer/manipulative asshat (side note: can you tell I'm currently reading City of Bones?). He raves on about how Evie's everything to him, but that's clearly not true. He cares more about drugs, music and himself, because that's what he chooses over her time and again. I would even say his relationship with Evie is emotionally abusive; it's not her he loves, it's how she makes him feel and the power he has over her. Even their first sexual encounter (and the only one detailed in the book) seems less about passion and more about what he can do to her and get her to do to him.

All of this made Evie's obsession with Jake extremely frustrating; even 15 years later, she's no longer with him but he's still haunting her - perhaps even more so than the actual ghost in her life. She's floundering and clearly extremely unhappy, with her scraps of unmet dreams and lost love piled up in a box under the bed. Hence the haunting; Robbie comes along with the message to not waste life because you never know when it will end. At least, I think that was why she was there. It's never firmly established; in fact, the haunting takes a backseat to a bunch of other things so much that each time Robbie pops up, I was like, "oh, that's right, this is a ghost story." In the end, all Robbie proved to me was what a horrible friend Evie was, making me like her even less.

Robbie herself is a colourful character, which is one of the reasons I would've liked to see more of her - dead or alive. There were some other secondary characters that I also enjoyed - namely pretty much all of the people Evie lives with as an adult. Piotr the pianist especially caught my heart; from the moment he was introduced I found him so much more attractive than icky Jake. But he wasn't in it enough to make up for the horrible relationship that dominates the majority of the book. To me, Innocence was not a story about love, or even about ghosts, but about the damage we can inflict on others. Not quite the bubbly chick lit I was hoping for.

Rating: 2.5/5

Eye Candy
I pictured...
Rachel McAdams as Evie

Gillian Jacobs as Robbie

Colin Farrell as Jake

Adrien Brody as Piotr


  1. No swoon! How disappointing. I don't think this book is for me but great review Belle :)

  2. Thanks Nic! Yeah it was disappointing, ah well, can't win em all. :)