Title: I See You Everywhere
Author: Julia Glass
Release Date: October 14, 2008
Challenge: RYOB 2009
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
From the author of the best-selling Three Junes comes an intimate new work of fiction: a tale of two sisters, together and apart, told in their alternating voices over twenty-five years.
Louisa Jardine is the older one, the conscientious student, precise and careful: the one who years for a good marriage, an artistic career, a family. Clem, the archetypal youngest, is the rebel: uncontainable, iconoclastic, committed to her work but not to the men who fall for her daring nature. Louisa resents that the charismatic Clem has always been the favorite; yet as Clem puts it, “On the other side of the fence–mine–every expectation you fulfill . . . puts you one stop closer to that Grand Canyon rim from which you could one day rule the world–or plummet in very grand style.”
In this vivid, heartrending story of what we can and cannot do for those we love, the sisters grow closer as they move farther apart. Louis settles in New York while Clem, a wildlife biologist, moves restlessly about until she lands in the Rocky Mountains. Their complex bond, Louisa observes, is “like a double helix, two souls coiling around a common axis, joined yet never touching.”
Alive with all the sensual detail and riveting characterization that mark Glass’s previous work, I See You Everywhere is a piercingly candid story of life and death, companionship and sorrow, and the nature of sisterhood itself.
I See You Everywhere is a difficult book to pin down. At times, the story flows like quietly moving water. The prose is lush and the reader falls into the narrative. At other times, the writing is stilted and the plot stops moving altogether. There is no sense of urgency that drives the novel forward, that keeps the reader hooked. Instead the novel tends to plod along without any real direction.
The story revolves around Louisa and Clem, sisters who are as different as night and day. Each woman has her own, distinct personality, which Glass establishes early in the book. These personalities are the only way to discern which character is narrating at any given point in time because they don’t seem to have distinct voices. Instead, the reader must rely on personality clues to guide him or her. Their characters are developed more around each other than with each other, if that makes sense. In many ways, they are defined by the stand-off and rivalry that exists most of their adult lives.
The book was also somewhat unsatisfying. In many cases, I would have been happier had Glass taken one of the vignettes and expanded it into an entire book. I could have read about the sisters fighting about great aunt Lucy for hours, especially because Lucy was such a mysterious, gothic character. Sometimes Glass ends the stories at the point where they are just getting good. I See You Everywhere left me wanting more – more story, more plot. Perhaps that was the author’s intention?
I See You Everywhere is a contemplative novel that will leave the reader thinking long after the last pages are turned. I recommend it to any fan of Julia Glass. If you have yet to read one of her works, I’d start with one of her other two novels.