I was resistant to read This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes because I thought it was some sort of nonfiction survival guide or chronicle of the wilderness. The dramatic title and big cat on the cover turned me off.
E lent me the book over two years ago, but didn’t do a good job of selling it.
“It’s a good book,” E assured me.
To spend a few hours of my life twisted in a story, I need more of a pitch, so I never even bothered to read the back flap summary. If I had known the book was categorized under ‘psychological fiction’ I probably would have read it sooner. My main motivation for picking the book up again was to unclutter my bookshelf and give the book back to E.
This time around, I instinctively knew what I held in my hands was fiction. Maybe reading through my collection helped with that, or maybe I’m in a different place in my life now, but last week, strangely enough, the title appealed to me. It had urgency. It was like hearing a song for the hundredth time and finally understanding the words.
This Book Will Save Your Life read like a three hundred and seventy-two page short story. I couldn’t see the strings when I was reading it. That means I had no idea where the book was going, why characters were introduced, and I couldn’t untangle the plot before the final sentence. To say the book was random would be a gross understatement. There were fire ants, noise-canceling earphones, a horse in a sinkhole, a big cat on the prowl, a doughnut shop, and a middle-aged male protagonist who was just as clueless as the reader.
For me, the major transformation that took place in the novel was openness to life. AMH was saying, this is life; it’s rocky and uncertain, and it’s not guaranteed to anyone. The best one can do is go with it, take it to where it leads, and let those around know that you love them. In other words, live life. It seems easy doesn’t it? Perhaps. But first one has to recognize that they are dead inside, or disconnected from the rest of the world, and therein lays the trick, the irony, the beauty. Live life, and this book will save your life.