3 Stars - Recommended to readers who like to go with the flow
Publisher: mdmw books
Les Plesko is one of those authors who I've allowed myself to trust. I trust him to tell his stories in his own way. I trust his simplistic, sparse, poetic language that reads like a beat in your head and in your heart. I trust him to take me beyond the pages, even if I am not certain where he is taking me.
And I had no clue where his second novel, Who I Was, was going . Consisting of a series of moments, we are given lightening-quick glimpses into the life of Moonie, a free spirited girl who attaches herself to the less-spontaneous but charming Addie. Moonie, forever with a book in her backpack and a penchant for the peace of the aquarium. Addie, always a conversation ahead or behind, the Felix to her Oscar.
Though the book is obviously about their relationship, there seemed to be no real plot. No sense of "start here and end there" to it at all. It was very much like sneaking a read through someone's diary, all tense and personal and lovely and aloof and confusing, as most relationships I've known had a habit of being.
Take the opening sentences, for example: "There I went wobbling down Alden Drive on my junk bicycle with my whole soul flapping. Started a thing, started another thing. Sometimes nobody even found out about them." Definitely a sense of aloofness to this girl, right? Whether it's manufactured or really how she works in the world-at-large is left mostly up to us. But then, at the same time, she seems to throw it all out there. A living contradiction. With Moonie, we know right quick that she is not one to mince words. I think it's interesting that Les wrote her without a filter - what she thinks is exactly what comes out of her mouth, she makes no apologies for who she is.
And her mind moves so quickly from one thought to the next: "Family stories made me sleepy like one wave rolling over the next. Were we supposed to just tell them and hear them? I buried my feet in the sand where the foam washed over it. The sea's going to yank my ankles, I said. I turned, but Addie's hand wasn't there. I could just keep walking in, I said. My socks were rolled like dirty snowballs on the bird-footed sand. Addie's hand was outstretched. The wind blew my hair and the pages of my book. You're always reading, Addie said and I said, Shut up, I'm reading. The wind blew the pages and I lost my places." I got the feeling, as I read, that Moonie has a bit of an attention issue. More specifically, that she has trouble concentrating in environments that contain lots of outside stimuli. Which might explain her infatuation with the quiet, gurgling aquarium that she so often runs away to. A place to shut off all the inner braininess and let the batteries recharge. And while I'm convinced it's a very private alone-space for her, she seems to share it quite willingly with Addie.
And how about that relationship with the mathematical and broody Addie? Sometimes I'm not sure Moonie was even very certain: "I loved him the way you don't really know if you do. Maybe you wanted to. Did my life change completely from him? Or didn't every moment. Those were the thoughts I had. His will and his mind confused mine." Either you're in love with him, or you're not, my dear. Except, we all know that relationships are never that clear-cut and defined, are they? They're flexible, they expand and contract, they bore us and excite us, and most especially confuse the holy fuck out of us. I don't care if you're dating 15 days or married 15 years, it never seems to get easier to be with someone.
All I know is that everyone needs a Moonie in their lives. She's the bright star in an otherwise dark sky. She's the ying to most people's yang. She's the Clementine in a world of Josh's. Or, if you're more like Moonie, go find yourself a sweet, level headed Addie. And then go make memories that will turn into stories that you can tell your grand kids about it, when they're old enough to understand!
Check out the Plesko's book trailer for Who I Was: