Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Review: I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit
Publisher:Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2016
Source: ARC from publisher
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A modern take on Sleeping Beauty, for fans of Jojo Moyes.
Elsa is spending her thirtieth birthday in the hospital bed where she's lain for months after a devastating mountain accident. Unable to speak, see, or move, she appears to be in an irreversible coma, but her friends and family don't know that she's regained the power of hearing.
That day, a stranger named Thibault enters the hospital to visit his brother, who's just been injured in an accident that killed two young girls. He instead seeks refuge in the room where Elsa lies and quickly becomes intrigued by the young woman, returning day after day to sit beside her, convinced that his words are being heard.
As their connection grows, the doctors deliver a devastating blow to her family. Is it possible that Thibault knows something no one else does, and can he reach her before it's too late?
I'm Still Here has a synopsis that draws me in. It's ultimately why I requested it to review. It sounded like it had the same vibe and base story as The Women Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes(who is a favourite and I love that book). But nope, I highly recommend reading The Women Who Stole My Life if this book sounds at all appealing to you. Unfortunately, I'm Still Here fell flat in pretty much every aspect.
A modern re-telling of Sleeping Beauty is pretty spot on. There's the creepy guy falling in love with a sleeping girl whom he's never met. Nothing was surprising. I'm Still Here followed predictable to a tee. There was a major disconnect. The story lacked any sort of emotion expecting knowing how to piss me off. I'm not sure if something got lost in translation but all I can do is review the book I read.
I felt for Elsa. Poor girl can hear her doctors not giving a shit, her parents discussing pulling the plug on her life, her sister getting busy with a different boy every week. But as a character you don't get to know her. She's in a comatose state and yea, there're her thoughts and some memories but what can you really take away from that? Next to nothing is the answer.
Thiebault was barely any better. I get his anger and disgust towards his brother; makes sense. But what the hell kind of guy makes himself comfortable around, and ultimately thinks he's in love with women who's in a coma? Just no. It's not romantic. It's fucking creepy. Lurking in her room. Visiting her a few times a week. Making room for yourself on her hospital bed so you can sleep. Playing around with her tubes and machines. What the hell dude? Gross.
Then you see Elsa falling for this guy(Thiebault) too, looking forward to his visits(which I can overlook). She's alone in her head with a whole whack of absentee family members and friends. Random guy is the only one, creepily, paying attention to you. Actually having faith in your recovery. So I'm pretty sure, considering the situation, most of us would feel the same as Elsa.
Now what I can't overlook is the horrible medical care. What the bloody hell?! I can only hope that Avet isn't basing the doctors off of personal experience. Maybe she just hates doctors. Doesn't matter. Everything was just a piss off. Elsa's doctor could care less about her life. Elsa ain't brain dead. She's had some improvement since she entered the hospital. But head doc doesn't care. He's hell bent on convincing her parents that she's gone and it's time to pull the plug. He's not the only one; a few times Elsa shows signs of life and the doctors just rub it off as impossible and don't bother to check up on her. No scans, nothing. In fact, one doctor ordered one then saw her chart which shows that her head doctor pretty much says don't bother worrying about her, so he cancels the scan. It's a whole bunch of infuriating. Even more so knowing Elsa can hear them all making attempts to end her life. Also, how about the fact that she's literally lying in this bed for months and there's no nurse coming to switch positions, keep her muscles from deteriorating to nothing. They pretty much leave her for dead.
Which leads into what a caring family she has... Her parents barely visit. Her sister comes once a week to pretty much discuss her rolling door of boyfriends. Her parents complete lack of faith in Elsa is terrible. Her dad is so angry over how she landed in the hospital that he can't even get over it to feel for Elsa. Be sad, jackass. At least I know that if I ever found myself in Elsa's shoes I'd have a family that would be there for me every day, fighting to make sure I have the best care. Poor Elsa.
The ending was bull shit. You know when you're reading and everything is starting to happen in a rush because the ending is a few pages away? Well, that's annoying as hell. Here I am at ten pages left and Elsa is still asleep. So I just knew I was going to be angry with whatever happened. And I sure the hell was. Abrupt and stupid. I'll leave it at that....
So clearly I'm Still Here just really didn't work for me. It wasn't romantic or sweet. There wasn't that urgency for Elsa to just get better. The story lacked a lot. I definitely didn't hate my time spent reading it. I just lean heavily on the side of skipping over this one. Unless you read French, then maybe give it a go.