Eliza Moore is a Twenty Nine year old English Professor, newly arrived at Grace College, Iowa. Tara Haus is a final year English student from Iowa. Tara falls instantly for her professor when they meet for the first of Eliza’s ‘American Literary Canon’ classes, which Tara is taking.
Title: The Beginning of Us
Author: Sarah Brooks
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
Eliza, where are you? I’m listening, watching, waiting for you. I need you. How dare you run away? Where’s the courage, the fearlessness I fell in love with?
I don’t know what else to do but write. It’s dark in my dorm room, and the wind rattles the panes of my window, and I’m supposed to be driving to my parents’ right now for winter break, but I can’t feel my arms or my legs, and my chest aches because I don’t know where you’ve gone. Or why.
I know I shouldn’t have fallen in love with my professor. But you inspired me when you stood in front of the class, telling us to find our authentic selves. And I did—with you. How could I know that you would be so afraid of this, of us? That you’d be so terrified of . . . yourself? Wherever you are, Eliza, hear me—and come back to me.
Love (yes, I’ll write that word, Professor), Your Tara
This story is written as a novella/letter within a novella, for the most part, with emails and texts forming the ending of the tale. It’s an interesting stylistic device to use but not without its problems. When Eliza fails to turn up to moderate the final exams of her class, it sends Tara into a spiral of despair, which manifests as staying in her room on an empty campus, during the first days of winter break. This is where the story actually begins as it is told through flashbacks via the letter/novella Tara writes to the absent professor.
Her letter is mainly a stream of consciousness exercise with short flashback excerpts. Sarah Brooks’ writing is good. There are passages, such as where Tara runs out into a snow storm exhorting that she knows who she is, that she can cope without Eliza and feels empowered by this knowledge, which work very well. The reason this section works so well is that it contains a semblance of passion. The rest of this story does not. ‘The Story of Us’ is a coming out story and how that affects two women who, in finding each other, discover the truth about their own sexuality however, it is cold. Part of the problem is the before mentioned structure of the piece. Having the narrator tell a story by reading a story/letter as they write it is clever but distances the reader from the characters and the action. These kind of narrative devices work as in ‘Wuthering Heights’, where there is real underlying passion and emotive energy and I don’t mean sex scenes. The lack of sex is never a problem if the physical and emotional attraction is conveyed in other ways. As a woman reading a story about women, for women and by a woman I wanted undiluted sensuality, emotive symbolism and repressed desire. Unfortunately, we got the oldest symbol in the feminist canon, ‘the womb cave’, it is in here where they first kiss, in the dark.
I wanted to like ‘The Beginning of Us’, I wanted it to sizzle in a subtle, powerfully feminine way but it didn’t. To end on a positive note however, Sarah Brooks use of different forms of communication to indicate a growing need to be together worked well. We start with old school writing, replaced by emails and finally text, with the last lines, a text
‘COME TO ME NOW I want to kiss you’.
Now if that passion and urgency had existed throughout this piece, I would be writing a very different review with a better star rating.
I would like to thank Riptide for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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