B.A. Paris’ The Breakdown

Trust is one of the most important things in life, without it, your world can be turned upside-down.  But what happens when you don’t know who to trust?  With her sophomore novel (and next one, Bring Me Back out this month!), B.A. Paris joins the ranks of S.J. Watson and A.S.A. Harrison in her story-telling abilities, begging the question: can you even trust yourself?

The Breakdown opens with a torrential storm.  Cass is taking a shortcut home through the woods, the same shortcut that her husband, Matthew, has warned her against taking.  She notices a car pulled over on the side of the road and tries to see if the driver needs help.  She comes close to getting out of her car, but thinks better of it and continues on her way home.  The next morning, Cass wakes to find that the woman in the car was murdered.  She may be the only witness, except no one knows that she was there.

And with that, B.A. Paris’ masterpiece begins.  At first we believe Cass – her recollection of the events that she keeps replaying in her head seems plausible – but soon those thoughts start to take over her life.  She becomes increasingly forgetful and paranoid that you start to question the validity of her story.  Was she even there?  Did she murder the woman?  Is she sane?  Paris weaves the threads so tightly at times that you can’t tell fact from fiction.

What I love most about this story is that moment when the pieces start to fall together – it’s then that you realize just how deep it really goes.  And that sometimes, the truth is not what you think it to be.

 

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The Breakdown, B.A. Paris 2017 St. Martin’s Press.
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No Regrets

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about the difficulties people have opening up and letting others in, in the context of saying what’s on your mind, making your feelings known…expressing yourself.  It’s a conversation that I seem to be having a lot lately, and it got me thinking about how we often let our fears and insecurities dictate our lives.  In what felt like a scene out of a movie, John Mayer’s “Say” started playing in the background as we were talking.

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to say

In my tight-knit circle, it is known that I have no problem saying exactly how I’m feeling about a situation.  It’s a trait that is often admired, although I don’t know if it deserves the praise.  It sort of goes hand-in-hand with my penchant for the truth.  Ever since I was sixteen, honesty has been extremely important to me.  As such, I have vowed to always be honest with the people that I care about, no matter what.  If I feel that I would regret not saying something – no matter how hard that something might be – I say it, because there are so few things in life that we can actually control, and I don’t want to live my life thinking what if I had done this…because I know myself, and that’s exactly what I would do.

It’s not about being stronger versus weaker, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that.  They think that they are weak because they have a hard time sharing their feelings and feel that people like me are fearless.  But they’re wrong.  I’m just as scared, only I choose to live through the fear as opposed to living in it.  More often than not, I’m terrified to share my innermost thoughts, to give someone else the power to break me, but I don’t allow that fear to get in the way of something that I know needs to be said.  You can live in fear every day, but that will only do more harm than good, and it certainly won’t help you to move on or grow.

Have no fear for giving in

Have no fear for giving over

You’d better know that in the end

It’s better to say too much

Then never say what you need to say again

S J Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep

“My life…is built on quicksand. It shifts from one day to the next. Things I think I know are wrong, things I am certain of, facts about my life, myself, belong to years ago. All the history I have reads like fiction…they exist, but as shadows in the dark. As strangers, they crisscross my life, connecting, disconnecting. Elusive, ethereal. Like ghosts.”

How would you feel if every time you woke, your mind erased itself? You have no idea where you are or who’s sleeping next to you. You go to the bathroom and see pictures taped up to the wall and mirror, pictures of you with this other person, smiling and aging. It’s only then that you glance into the mirror and gasp because your appearance has changed so much that you almost don’t recognize yourself…until you look into your eyes and realize that it’s you. How would you feel?

For Christine, in S.J. Watson’s debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, this is precisely the case. Suffering from a rare form of amnesia, she can retain memories in the span of a day, but once she goes to sleep they are lost and the next morning she has to go through the process of learning them all over again. Her memories are not completely gone though; sometimes they come back to her, and she writes them down. With the clock constantly running out, will Christine be able to reclaim her memories and her life for good, or will they forever be lost in the abyss of her mind?

In truly brilliant prose, Watson brings the reader into Christine’s mind as memories flood back to her and she tries to put the missing pieces of her life together in hopes of remembering what caused her amnesia in the first place. It makes you realize just how lonely and frustrating it would be to wake up every morning, day in and day out, and never know who you are, and despite those painful memories that you would wish you could forget, it is those memories that help define us, help make us who we are today, and without them, we would be lost, just like Christine.

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