The Muse by Suzie Carr is a powerful story that everyone should read. There is a romance in here, but more importantly it deals with an issue that is very real in today’s schools. That issue is bullying. Whether you have been bullied, know someone who has, or were a bully yourself, this is a story that really shows how lasting it’s effects can be. More importantly, it highlights how the people involved struggle to overcome the effects to become better than they believed they can be.
Jane Knoll’s world is uncomplicated. By day she edits marketing jargon for Martin Sporting Goods, and by night she watches reruns with her friend and neighbor, Larry. It may seem boring, but to Jane it’s progress. For the past decade, she has been able to recapture a sense of peace after being bullied mercilessly in high school. If this is her life, then she is happy to have these few precious things. But then, she meets her new coworker, Eva. All of a sudden, the simple existence Jane has created for herself isn’t very satisfying. She would love to get to know Eva more, but the old wounds have barely healed and Jane is wary of new people.
So, Jane creates an online alter ego to follow Eva on Twitter. Behind the safety of her laptop, Jane becomes confident, empowered, and witty. In this cyber world, Eva and Jane hit it off on many levels. They even create an artistic union that could change many young lives. But Jane’s insecurities won’t go away so easily, and if she’s not careful she will squander all she has gained. Will Jane find the courage to fulfill her purpose? Or will she forever be confined to the computer screen as her alter ego?
Jane Knoll isn’t as overly complex or mysterious as she has some people believe. She is very smart, funny, and a “tad bit sarcastic” by her standards. Her sarcasm is a ruse, though, that hides a lot of Jane’s loveable qualities, and pain, that only the reader gets to experience through her telling of this story. In a way, it’s nice to be the only one privied to Jane’s internal musings and rants. However, once you discover her reasons for hiding, you want so badly for her to share it with the rest of the world.
The secondary characters are very much like the baby bear of the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” tale. They’re not over developed or under developed. They are perfectly accurate in their portrayals in the way Jane sees them. For example, Larry is a necessity as Jane’s best friend and requires extensive development. He knows Jane through and through, better than anyone. He is there to offer a shoulder to cry on, make her laugh when she’s feeling down, or encourage her to go after what she wants when she’s being irrational.
In contrast, her co-worker, Katie, represents Jane’s fear of her past and has minor development to emphasize Jane’s desire to minimize her interaction with Katie. Jane sees Katie as just another bully who uses her assets and steps on the people around her to get what she wants. Even though they exchange sickening sweet smiles in the office, Katie is a reminder to Jane of her fear that she is still a scared little girl who will never be able to escape her bullies.
Then, there is Eva whose development progresses throughout the story just as Jane’s development evolves from quiet and scared to confident and charming. Eva represents everything Jane has ever desired, yet she is too afraid to grasp it. Eva is the beautiful person Jane wishes she could be inside and out, and she becomes the muse to spur Jane into action to finally see there is more to her than just a former bullied child.
The Writing Style
The only way to tell this story is through Jane’s perspective, and Carr does it beautifully. If this had been written any other way, I wouldn’t have been able to feel the full impact of what has happened to Jane and how it has made her the person she is today. It’s very compelling and makes you really understand who Jane is and how she copes with certain facets of the world.
I love the inner dialog Jane has with herself. Right off the bat, Carr makes her likeable by showing her humor and unique view of the world. It makes her relatable to the reader to show this side of Jane, before revealing why she uses humor to hide her true self.
This isn’t a con, just a warning. While there are some nice moments in this story, especially between Jane and Eva, it’s not fluff. The subject of bullying is very profound, and it really makes you think about the issue. This is an amazing book, but if you’re wanting something a little lighter, then save this for a day when you’re wanting to think and absorb, as well as enjoy.
When I first picked up this book I was excited to read a story about two women meeting on Twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to get that and so much more. This story is a smart read by a smart author. I urge you to pick it up for the romance and stay for the enlightenment.
Excerpt from The Muse by Suzie Carr
“I feel really silly for asking this,” she said in a low, raspy voice, “but can you tell there’s something kind of strange about my outfit?” She rested her hand on her curvy hip, posing like a runway model.
I stopped lathering soap in my hands, biting down hard on the derisive words that, had I been a braver woman, would’ve knocked her down a few notches from her pretty little perch. I knew her type well – entitled to stares and dropped jaws. Rather than attempt it, I scanned her taupe dress, her bare calves, and her sandaled feet, like a fearful bird pecking crumbs in the wake of hasty tourists. I turned back to the sink and the safety of the running water and shrugged. “Looks fine,” I mumbled.
“So, you didn’t notice my mistake?”
I looked back up at her reflection in the mirror, skirting around her penetrating eyes, her dark, wavy hair resting at her breasts, and her exotic features. I shook my head.
In my peripheral, I saw her nod with gracious appeal. She turned and entered the stall. “Okay then. All is good.”
I continued washing my hands while checking out her slender ankles and the way her sandals cradled her feet so delicately. Her crimson toenails sparkled, and the strings of her sandals flirted with her soft, smooth, creamy skin. I grazed from one pretty sandal to the other. That’s when I noticed her mishap. She wore one dark blue sandal and one black one.
An imperfect beauty.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780984937745
- Publisher: Sunny Bee Books, LLC
Suzie Carr Online
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