There’s an event early in Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz that had me tut-tutting like an old nanna. In fact I did think I may not get through this book, but once I passed the first 60-70 pages, I fell into a rhythm, familiarised myself with the central character and enjoyed it more than I would have (initially) expected.
by Aga Lesiewicz
Published by Macmillan Australia
on February 9th 2016
Life is good for Anna Wright. She's a successful media executive working for one of the UK's largest TV corporations. She's got a great boyfriend, some close friends and a lovely home. She adores her dog, Wispa, and she loves to run to help her de-stress.
But Anna's perfect life starts to crumble from the moment when, out jogging on the Heath one day, she meets a handsome stranger. She takes a route into unfamiliar territory, and then she has to face the consequences.
There's a dark, growing creepiness as the atmosphere becomes unsettled and, as Anna's professional life becomes increasingly pressured and poisonous, her obsession with the intriguing stranger intensifies.
The book kicks off as Anna is breaking up with her boyfriend of three years. In essence she’s bored with the too-good-to-be-true James but her friends agree they’re not well matched and Anna’s relieved when the breakup goes smoothly.
She confesses to never really being without a boyfriend but promises best friend Bell that she’ll go it alone for a while.
Until she sees a cute guy running in the park, catches his eye, stops him, reaches into his pants and gives him a hand job.
What. The. Actual. Fuck?!
I almost threw the book away then. I mean… there may be people who would do that to a complete stranger, but everything we know about Anna at that point doesn’t lead us to believe she’s one of them.
Indeed, even she worries (later) the guy in question (who she calls the Dior man – cos he looks like someone from a Christian Dior ad) could possibly press charges. (Side note… can you even imagine if a guy did that to a woman?!)
She’s horrified with herself, but becomes obsessed with Dior man and goes back for more. And more.
It’s around this time rapes start occurring in the same park and Anna is paranoid there’s some kind of symbiotic relationship. Worse still, she’s worried she’s unleashed some sort of maniacal hunger in her fantasy man.
Anna’s entire world starts going south.
Her workplace is going through a restructure and Anna’s responsible for making unpopular decisions about layoffs. She’s become the sounding board for an unstable male neighbour and another neighbour’s wife accuses Anna of flirting (and worse) with her husband.
I’m not sure if Lesiewicz wants us to feel sorry for Anna but I’m afraid that was never going to happen. Quite frankly Anna annoyed the crap out of me and I found her thoroughly unlikeable. Immature. Superior. And often downright nasty.
As soon as I’m back, Sarah puts her basset face through my door. She’s a permalancer turned full-time Senior Producer, because she couldn’t hack the constant insecurity and challenges of the freelance life. She’s also a jolly fat girl turned miserable gastric-band dieter obsessed with her weight loss. The excess stretches of skin that used to contain fat hang loosely on her face and neck giving her the permanent expression of a sad dog. p. 25
Yep… A nasty arrogant biatch.
I kept waiting for Anna to come to some sort of self-realisation that she was (in fact) not… ‘all that and a bag of chips’.
However you wouldn’t know it because it seemed EVERY male she encountered (and the odd female) fell madly in love with her. I didn’t get a good sense of what she looked like (I’m not very visual so this is probably a ‘me’ thing) but she must have been pretty bloody impressive to have so many men throwing themselves at her (with little regard for their own circumstances).
So… in case you didn’t guess, I obviously struggled a little with the feasibility of the plot itself. I enjoyed the ‘whodunnit’ part: tracking down the rapist (and later, a murderer); and Anna not knowing who to trust. That was all very interesting and entirely credible. But Anna herself. Well… meh.
It was interesting that I also struggled with the writing. Not the words or the prose but the delivery. Anna’s eventually gets over herself (a little) and is able to reflect on her (self-absorbed) behaviour. And as the book’s written in first person, we hear it all. Akin to a stream of consciousness.
However, her self talk occasionally made the writing feel as if it switched to second person and she was addressing someone else (or we readers, directly).
My iPhone pings. A message from Peter from Promax, the most effective speed-dating agency of the media world. Just kidding. I mean the glizy media event, with the awards night that is a wet dream for all the TV promo-makers and marketing guys in the world. Back to Promax Peter…. pp 8-9.
I say this is interesting because in my own vague and pitiful attempts to write something novel-like I started in first person. At the same time I realised that one of my strengths* is my wry humour or sarcasm and considered how I could inject that into my main character’s thoughts and dialogue.
It’s not that it doesn’t work here… but it often jolted me out of the plot and made me conscious I was reading someone’s thoughts.
The use of a first person narration means the ‘show-don’t-tell’ writing commandment is also often brushed to the side.
As I said, the writing itself was good and the novel was well-paced. So my advice for potential readers is to hang in there as I think it’s eventually worth it.
Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz will be released in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 9 February 2016.
* could be debated I realise 😉
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.