Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Iodine by Haven Kimmel

In this novel, Haven Kimmel again (as with The Solace...) deals with trauma, only this time in a more direct way.

In this case, the reader views the world through the eyes of Trace Pennington, a young woman with a traumatic past, as she works her way through her senior year of college. Brilliant, but also slightly psychotic (an after-effect of trauma, as I well know), Kimmel's narrator falls under the category of "unreliable," but the reader will become immmediately engaged with her and will go along for the ride. The narrator isn't unreliable in any malicious way, and is in fact unreliable even to herself.

The novel can be a bit disjointed, but I see it as a strength rather than weakness, certainly a display of the writer's talent rather than the text's short-coming.

In order to escape her horrific past, Trace, incredibly intelligent, having educated herself to the point that she has actually surpassed her professors, lives a sparce life, a life of scant circumstances, which shows a power of will and whatever-it-takes power of will I wish I had. She goes to school, returning after class to an abandoned farm with no heat or electricity, hangs out with people she could barely call friends, walks around the poor (dangerous?) part of town, all on the periphery of the priviledged, exclusive world of academia. Like her sister character from The Solace..., she (devastatingly to the reader) takes up with a professor in a torrid romance.

The story is familiar and achingly real in that the narrator's life is told in such a non-chalant way, the way many survivors of abuse live their lives and tell their stories - Kimmel's writing style is direct and to the point. This woman is healing in the way that real healing takes place - incompletely, and with scars. There is no deep breath and a sunset on the beach at the end of or anywhere within this novel. It is worth the read. Warning: Real becomes fiction becomes real. - 5 stars


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I have always enjoyed this author's books, but Iodine is one that I tried to read twice (print and audio version) and I could not get through it either time. I am happy you enjoyed it though.

Julie said...

It does sound like a very powerful story and like it would stay with you to ponder for a time.