Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Descending, by Catherine Chisnall

DescendingEmily is a teaching assistant, and her life is somewhat empty.  A stressful situation threw her into the arms of Jamie, one of the students at her school.  Jamie is what one might consider and at risk student, and Emily is lonely, so each are vulnerable in their own way.  As time goes on, a fiery relationship between the two develops.  Where else could this be headed but straight down into disaster?

I absolutely adored this book.  I have been really starting to love contemporary British authors, and this author really sealed the deal for me.  I am a full fledged literary Anglophile.  I thought the story was honest, even if that meant being somewhat raw.  While adults being in sexual relationships with children is a very serious topic, this book makes one understand how it can happen, without actually approving of it.  Everything in the book acknowledges it is wrong.

I really felt a lot of empathy for Emily's character.  I found her to be really well developed, and extraordinarily relatable.  Because the story is from her point of view, we get to know her better than we do Jamie, because I think even Emily does not really know Jamie.  I also loved that gay teen relationships were touched upon, without being exploited.

This is not a simple tale.  It is tangled, messy, and one might not feel right about loving a book about as adult in a relationship with a teenager.  But, the book is excellent.  It quite reminded me of Notes on a Scandal, but with more of an emphasis on the loneliness that led to the affair.  I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.


I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.