Review : If You Follow Me
What it’s about :
Still grieving her father following his suicide, Marina hopes teaching English in Japan will be the change of scenery she and her girlfriend Carolyn need. However, the culture shock is bigger than she expected, and Marina soon finds out that you can’t really escape your past, no matter how hard you wish you could.
My Thoughts :
My impression of If You Follow Me was that it had a very quiet pace, yet contained so much on an emotional level. Some parts had me smiling and almost laughing, while other parts made my heart break. Marina’s journey through grief and integration to a new culture had no boring moment, while being written very realistically. The characters had depth and the culture was explained with great respect (by which I mean, a culture carefully described to foreigners without relying on common stereotypes).
An interesting aspect of the book was Marina’s relationship with Carolyn. While their relationship is part of the story, it isn’t the only focus (or even the main one) of the book. Even more interestingly, I appreciated the author’s effort not to label the two girls. They both had some interest for men, too, Carolyn having dated many (but not exclusively girls) before, and Marina having been only with guys. To have their sexuality not clearly defined, and not being the only defining characteristic of their lives, was extremely refreshing.
I loved discovering Japan through Marina’s eyes. It feels like Asia will never cease to surprise me; no matter how many books, mangas, magazines or stories I read, there is always more to discover about it. If You Follow Me was no exception. Marina discovered great differences through important things like her work or smaller things like the garbage, and I was fascinated by it all. I felt like I was there, trapped in this strange country, learning the rules of life all over again.
I really loved If You Follow Me, and after I finished reading it, I found myself thinking about it quite often. Watrous created strong images with her quiet narration, and because of her talent, I felt like I both met interesting characters and visited another land for the time I read.