Book Review: Can You See Anything Now? By Katherine James

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The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Can You See Anything Now?, a debut novel, is a story without veneer, and for readers who prefer reality to sanitized fiction—this book is unsentimental, and yet grace-filled.
 
Follow a year in the small town of Trinity where tragedy and humility reveal true motivation and desire. This raw and unsentimental story exposes the complicated ways that interwoven lives affect each other for good and for bad. The characters here are complex and intriguing —the suicidal painter, Margie, who has been teaching her evangelical neighbor, Etta, how to paint nudes; her husband, the town therapist, who suspects his work helps no one; and their college-aged daughter Noel—whose roommate, Pixie, joined them at home for a winter holiday, only to fall into Trinity’s freezing river.

  • Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction 
  • Published: 2017
  • Pages: 256
  • Goodreads rating: 4.57 stars
Let regret end at the start of the day and don’t take no secrets back to your grave, let everyone know.
— Devendra Banhart
can you see anything now katherine james

Why I choose This Book: 

I was really intrigued by the synopsis because I have never really read a book like this one before. I don't read too many books with mental illness in them and I was interested to see how Katherine would bring out that particular topic in the book. 

First Impressions: 

Immediately at the start, you are thrown into Margie trying to kill herself by drowning. My heart absolutely felt for Margie. What has happened in her life for her to get a point where she believes that nothing can be fixed and the only way out is suicide? Also, I think her suicide attempt by drowning really foreshadows the rest of the novel. 

Margie has major depression and struggles with it for the most part. She finds comfort in her casseroles and painting. She has a strained relationship with her husband, Nick. It's strained because of Margie's depression and how Nick is not quite supportive of her struggles. I wanted to shake Nick, and say hey, your wife needs help! 

Etta is also an artist. She kind of reminds me of that one neighbor that appears to have it all together. She tries to be the perfect wife, the best bible study member, and a perfect friend to others. But deep inside she is also struggling with a sadness and not feeling worthy or good enough.

Pixie, oh my heart went out for her. She was a girl that was very lost. I am not going to give away too much, but she ends up going into a coma which brings the entire town together to help pixie recover. 

Setting: 

Katherine did an amazing job recreating the small town of Trinity. I could visually see the town and the houses that the characters lived in. She did an incredible job with the characters and I really get a sense of who they are and what they are struggling with. When you can see the raw emotion of the characters in your mind, you know the author did a great job! 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
— Psalm 34:18-19

Final Thoughts: 

What I really liked about this book was how long it took for the characters to slowly feel better. And that is true in reality. It doesn't take months to recover from depression, it can take a year, sometimes years. I also appreciated that Katherine emphasized that depression or any mental illness never really goes away, it's something you have to learn how to live with and heal from daily. 

I was really impressed with Katherine and how she let the characters start to heal from their illness. Margie attempted to create a relationship with Etta and keep her marriage positive. In depression, people just want to sleep and not want to interact with anyone. It's important for people with depression and other mental illness to go outside the home and interact with others. 

My favorite part of this book, however, is the concept that life isn't always perfect. And that no one's life is perfect. Mental illness is not often talked about and I think should be talked about more. It affects so many, your neighbor, a co-worker, could be fighting their inner demons. It also covers topics like premarital sex, drug abuse, self-harm, and suicide. Topics that are taboo to talk about. I appreciated that Katherine made such a book to help maybe people who are suffering know that they are not alone and there is help. 

I think the main point of this novel is to let the reader know that even through the darkest times, God will always be there. That God is there to help you recover from your pain and hurt. 

Would I recommend this book?: 

Yes and No. This book, in my opinion, does have some triggers. Therefore, if you are sensitive to reading material with mental illness, proceed with caution. However, if you can handle reading such material, I think this would be a great book to challenge yourself to trust God and let him heal you or others. 

 

I hope you enjoyed my review! If you decide to pick up the book, please let me know what you think of the book as well! 

To purchase the book, click ---> HERE

Thanks for stopping by and until next time! 

the caffeinated bibliophile

NOTE- I was given a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.