Intense. Very intense. Depression is an insidious thing – it’s not just being sad or upset or feeling blue. It’s an horrendous thing that can take over every part of your life. And this book does quite a good job of expressing what it is like to live with it. In fact, there were quite a few times when I had to put the book down and stop reading, because when Arabelle’s Shadows spoke to her (or rather, tormented her), I knew what it was like, and had to take a break.
Arabelle is struggling to make it as a model – probably one of the worst professions you could be in when dealing with depression. When your entire career rests on how you look, and what your surface exterior is, the Shadows really have a field day. And modelling isn’t all fun and games and glamour. She travels throughout Asia and parts of Europe, going from agency to agency, trying to find work, picking up a bit here and there, but nothing major, nothing that will catapult her into stardom..or even, the steady money. Along the way she makes extremely bad choices about men (for the love of pete, Arabelle, I wanted to shake you sometimes with the choices you made, girl! Aaaaargh!!), makes some good friends and some not-so-good friends, and struggles with depression. Sometimes she’s felt she’s beaten the Shadows; other times they are there with a vengeance, ready to destroy her.
It’s an interesting book in that it doesn’t really have a conventional plot. It’s told in memoir style, or diary style if you will. So we really get an insight into her character, rather than if it was told in third person. There’s no real “this happened, then that happened, then we had a major car chase with the baddies through the streets of Paris, then everything turned out well” type of plot. And there are flashbacks to her youth, growing up in New Zealand with a rather dysfunctional family. Actually, I found her growing up flashbacks to be the most intense, the most heartbreaking read of the book. It really hit me, what she went through, what she felt and thought, and I felt like I was sent right back to my teenage days and was there with her. And those were the parts where I felt I really had to take a break and go away and not remember.
Apparently, it’s based on a real story, and knowing the author Fleur Gaskin was a model, it makes me wonder how much of what Arabelle went through happened to her…and how the hell she dealt with it. If you’ve ever had the Shadows speak to you, this is a very intense, very heartbreaking, and very real book. If it’s never happened to you, read it anyway, cos it really does you give you insight into how people feel. They’re not just sad, they’re not just in a blue mood….the Shadows are killers, and while Arabelle occasionally REALLY sinks into their depths, she does come back, thank goodness.