Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Review: Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen

This book is creatively mysterious!
It was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years.

When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

My Personal Review

Both Of Me by Jonathan Friesen is a creatively mysterious and engaging book.  The characters are believable and the story-line brings an extremely realistic look at the very heartbreaking mental disorder tagged as a Dissociative Identity Disorder.  

Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen is my first book review that is classified in the Young Adult Fiction category.  I must confess that I have not read his previous books, but after reading this one, I certainly plan to in the very near future. Friesen's writing is so detailed and skillfully crafted, that I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy more of his work.  I chose to review this particular book, because I am a parent of YA's and would really like to know what's out there for them to read.  

So, here's my take on Both Of Me.  I loved it!  It has everything.  From an entertainment standpoint, it is very satisfying.  The characters are authentic and illicit the appropriate emotions within the reader as the story line progresses.  I literally laughed out loud several times with some of the fantastic imagery developed at various spots in the book. Izzy's character and her "guitar" combined with her reckless behavior conjured up all sorts of pictures in my head.  Clara's sensitivity is undeniable.  The depth of her thinking and constant analysis were endearing to me.  There is a chapter where Clara stands at the foot of the cross and empties her heart before God.  It was such a tender description as she poured out her guilt and shame.  It will have you searching your own heart for hidden hurts.  The main character, Elias, is anything but boring.  His dual personality had me confused and perplexed after a few pages of "The Other One".  It allowed me to feel as though I were actually inside of his chaotic mind.  Only a gifted writer can create such an experience for the reader.

Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen also has the "informative factor", as I like to call it.  That means that the reader learns something effortlessly and without intention.  In this particular case, the information being fed to the reader comes from the experiences of the character's lives.  Friesen does an amazing job to portray through the character of Elias, the disorganized thinking, tumultuous relationships, delusions, and challenges that a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder may face on a daily basis.  The inability to find a treatment for those suffering from this life altering mental illness is also concisely communicated within the book.  This is not the only lesson learned from reading Both of Me; there are plenty more.  There are also insights into family dynamics, the freedom of honesty, first love, and the importance of forgiveness. 

Both Of Me is a captivating read.  The subject matter is a little heavy, so I would suggest it for the over sixteen year old population.  I also think this book would make a fantastic suspense filled movie!  Perhaps because I am a "OA" (Older Adult) and not a "YA" (Younger Adult), I find the statement of Atticus to be profoundly true when he says, "It's a round world.  You live long enough, you see it, the coming round of things."  Great read!!

Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for this review copy of Both Of Me by Jonathan Friesen given to me through the BookLook Bloggers program.  I was not required to give a favorable review of this work, but only asked to read it in it's entirety and give my honest opinion.