Cartwheel: A Novel by Jennifer Dubois
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Just like the fate of imprisoned Lily, by some twist of luck (or maybe I felt this way all along?) the careful consideration of certainty, truth, and character completely captivated me. This psychological thriller takes its time unwinding the plot, but loses nothing in the close character study. It's so interesting how the author can create two sides to a character--two different sides that make them almost feel like two different characters-- and make them feel so connected and reconciled with each other. That's where the power of this book lies: when you question how well you know a person and whether or not you can judge them based on what you know.
However brilliantly the character examination goes, I felt like the vocabulary sometimes makes the author feel too present in the narrative--frequently there are words that would make a lesser reader reach for the dictionary often, and some readers might feel that some of the analyzing done by the characters is a bit much, even though it usually seems to lead to something. Despite that, the shifting narrative frame involving different characters as well as the past and the present worked very well.
Dubois also masterfully portrays youth, innocence, and the desire for the world to be what you've built it up around yourself to be. This desire, present in the main character, goes right along with another feeling that she captures perfectly: that of traveling or being abroad and tasting the world's expansiveness. I really began to like the book when I realized how those things fit together and are basically conveyed through the title and that one act that defines the main character. I'm really excited for this book to come out so I can talk more about it! So fascinating.