5 Jul 2013

REVIEW: Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price

Title: Zoe Letting Go
Author: Nora Price
Publication Date: June 14th 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Rating: 4/5
Zoe knows she doesn’t belong in a hospital—so why is she in one?
Twin Birch isn’t just any hospital. It’s a strange mansion populated by unnerving staff and glassy-eyed patients. It’s a place for girls with serious problems; skinny, spindly girls who have a penchant for harming themselves.

Zoe isn’t like them. And she can’t figure out why she was sent here. Writing letters to her best friend Elise keep her sane, grounded in the memories of her past—but mired in them, too. Elise never writes back.

Zoe is lost without her, unsure of how to navigate tenuous new friendships and bizarre rules without Elise by her side. But as her letters intertwine with journal entries chronicling her mysterious life at Twin Birch, another narrative unfolds. The hidden story of a complicated friendship; of the choices we make, the truths we tell others, and the lies we tell ourselves. The story of a friendship that has the potential to both save—and damage beyond repair. And Zoe finds she must confront the truth about her past once and for all, before she can finally let go.

Nora Price’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching meditation on the bonds of friendship with a gripping psychological twist.
Review: This is one of those books where I was immediately drawn in by the cover. I know it’s quite a simple cover but something about it makes it look all mysterious and whatnot and I can’t avoid a good mysterious book.

Before I actually started this book I knew very little about it- I knew that it had something to do with mental illness in some way and a possibly toxic friendship. I wasn’t quite expecting what this turned into. The blurb I had on my cover was different to the one included here (I couldn’t find it anywhere!), it was much more ominous and even a little bit creepy- it definitely added to the mysterious element of the book.

Zoe is a different type of character. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that quite reflects the themes in this book, though I have watched a few films/documentaries on the subject. I didn’t really know what to expect from a character in this type of situation, it’s one thing listening to someone with an illness like anorexia speak, but it’s a completely different experience to hear the thoughts inside their heads. The writing is so incredibly haunting. Sometimes it got a little bit too heavy for me and I had to put the book down for a moment before I could pick it up again. This being said, I did actually enjoy reading about this topic especially as it was written in very personal terms rather than clinically- it made it so much more powerful.

The friendship between Zoe and Elise was very different from what I was expecting. I was expecting a toxic kind of friendship- maybe Elise using Zoe to her advantage or something but in fact, the friendship was very different. It was toxic in its own kind of way but it was also sort of bittersweet. The letters from Zoe to Elise were amazing and so carefully constructed so that we were allowed only glimpses into Zoe’s past and why she ended up in Twin Birch until the very end.

And that ending. My God! I think it might have actually broken my heart. It was just so beautifully written but it was also completely heartbreaking. I suppose that in the back of mind I knew what was going to happen, but that hardly braced me for the impact of finding out the truth.