Rebecca was published on Tuesday, right on schedule. There’s a snazzy link to it right here. Once again, I forgot to make a blog post when I uploaded it, so here I am. : )
I am anxious to see what people think of this one. When I say it’s a “companion piece” to Alex, what I mean is that a lot of elements are similar, but they are used in a different way to explore different themes. Now, this might just be me being a little too introspective on a Saturday morning, but the ideas have been bouncing around in my head for awhile now, so I thought I’d share what I mean by that.
First, similarities. Both novels are written in a similar style, with fairly short chapters (though Rebecca’s tend to be a bit longer) and direct prose. Both novels focus on one parent’s relationship with his or her child, that parent’s love for the child, and the ways that child has changed the parent’s life. In Alex, that relationship is father-son; in Rebecca, mother-daughter.
Both novels are also about recovery from a life-changing event of some kind, but this is where the deviations start: while Alex’s life-changing event was the loss of a child, Rebecca’s is the arrival of a child.
One of the most interesting contrasts between the two, I think, is the journey of the main character in each. Ian Colmes, in Alex, loves his son deeply at the outset, and actually needs to move away from that feeling so that he can begin to function again. He never stops loving his son, but he has to learn to deal with that feeling, because it’s become barbed with pain. Sarah Cooper, on the other hand, is taking the opposite journey: she doesn’t love her daughter at the start, or at least, doesn’t know if she does. There are a lot of life changes and personal revelations she needs to go through before she can realize she does love her daughter, and why.
That parallel between the two stories developed pretty organically, but the next one was deliberate. Both novels feature a “ghost” character of some kind – in Alex, obviously, it was Alex himself; in Rebecca, it’s the Messenger. In Alex, one of the main themes was the question of whether Alex was real, or Ian was only imagining him. That theme is there in Rebecca as well, but it’s buried a little deeper, and the main character doesn’t really explore it herself. All the clues are there for the reader to explore it, though, if they’d like. The final twist on this parallel is that when Alex is finished, the average reader has felt that most of the clues point toward Alex being real, while in Rebecca, the opposite assumption (that the Messenger is all in Sarah’s head) seems to be the default. But again, in both novels, either conclusion (real/unreal) could be supported with the evidence.
My last observation, and then I’ll leave it alone: I think both Sarah and Ian could’ve really benefited from making the other’s acquaintance.