“He bowed his head. ‘I’m scared. Are you ever frightened?.’ ‘No. Well, yes.’ ‘Frightened that you’ll be overcome by yourself? That a gentle monster inside of you might take over and never let go?'”
“‘Have you ever run from reality? Have you ever run because reality was too much, too suffocating, too…just too? And then you find fiction. And the fiction feels more real than the real ever did. Have you ever felt like that?'”
Elias Phinn has always been considered stupid, but that may be because no one knows his vacant exterior holds a gifted mind. A mind that has learned to focus on his created world of Warilia, through which Elias distills everything he sees in order to cope with the excruciating, actual world around him. But with each passing year, the detailed sketches and notebooks describing Warilia have not only taken over Elias’s time, they have become a world he must slip into in order to get through each day. Clara Tobias has been running from her own reality, leaving behind her fragile mother and two siblings in order to have the whirlwind life of travel and adventure she always wanted. She justifies she put in her time caring for others, and that the rest of her life is hers to use as she pleases. Even if guilt won’t leave her alone.
On a flight out of New York—Elias heading home for the summer, Clara on another trip to Somewhere—the two end up side by side. And when their carry-ons are mistakenly switched, Clara opens her bag to discover the histories of Warilia while Elias finds photographs and journals he uses to flesh out the mysterious girl who sat beside him, whom he sees as the beautiful daughter of a Warilian diplomat, making her and her mother an integral part of his entire world.
When Clara arrives at the Phinn’s boarding house for her luggage, she begs Elias to show her Warilia—and he does, taking her to locations that to him are not ordinary landscapes and buildings but epic mountains and massive skyscrapers. But as Clara finds herself further drawn to this intriguing boy, word comes her mother has died. When Elias becomes unable to deal with the death of his diplomat, he and Clara leave on a mission Elias claims will preserve Warilia forever. Though in the end it could be the one thing that allows Clara to piece her own world together.
***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Blink
Sometimes you read a book and every other page all you can think is WOW. Just wow. Then you take a deep breath, take a step back and pause. Everything suddenly has a marvelous sort of calm and clarity. It’s brilliant, peaceful, the kind of elation that comes from being deeply satisfied and loved. Loved-because that’s what Both of Me is, an outpouring of love, understanding and self-discovery and definitely one of my top reads of 2014, if not ever.
Both of Me is an unconventional story that is part self-discovery, romance, mystery, and revelation. It’s at its heart, an adventure that unites two unlikely allies on a quest made of imagination and dark secrets.
From the first page, I was fascinated by Clara. Her role as a traveller following a map around the world through an elaborate system of blogging and funding from an internet scam simultaneously disgusted and intrigued me. Beneath her bravado was a scared little girl running from a past that she thought could be forgotten through redemption, through following her father’s path around the world. Clara is confused, bold, brilliant, she tackles things head on and has a nice British accent. At the same time, the need to know her sinister truth pulls the story forward as Clara’s unraveling comes to a head. Everything she’s been hiding threatens to bubble over and burst out into the open. Clara’s terrified and shamed. Her emotions are complex and raw as she questions her faith and what it means to love. Her guilt is sometimes overwhelming but complimented by a dramatic thirst for life.
Both of Me is breathtaking and beautifully written in its simplicity. Some of the most profound, moving sentences are casually strung together so that they linger. They don’t immediately hit you that simmer, a slow burn of longing and epiphany.
This book is special in that it deals with a subject that is difficult to capture let alone talk about-Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and autism. Jonathan Friesen doesn’t talk about DID as something crippling or wrong but as a puzzle with a bit of whimsy. Elias is the most unique, heartbreaking character I’ve ever read. He’s two parts of a whole. One side is a talented artist that breathes life into a fantasy world of his own creation, where a Lightkeeper must be found to combat the darkness in the world. The other half is a genius machinist with a bemused expression and big heart. These two pieces of Elias are easy to fall in love with. His switch happens in an instant and at first it’s intriguing. The determined Other One has a quest that rivals great epics and a giddy hope builds as Clara follows him on his journey for answers. When he slips into the main Elias, he has no memory and that happiness quickly turns to bleak sadness. He’s losing part of himself and can never get that back. It’s brutal, gut-wrenching, and almost paralyzes so that you don’t want to move forward out of fear.
My heart fractured and broke, only to be rebuilt as Clara and Elias’ relationship blossomed.
Every character is quirky and has a fully developed personality. There’s not a small character that is not memorable.
Elias and Clara, when they are together is sweet, charming, and uncertain but they fit. She wants to help him and he’s healing her wounds.
The subplots are hilarious. Izzy’s insertion into the story and the underground railroad. It takes you to unexpected places that you’ll never see coming.
The ending. There are no words.
If this is not made into a movie and/or best-seller I will be astounded. If you like John Green, I’ll Give You the Sun, or Belzhar get this, it’s your next favorite.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this: