Mrs Mo's Review: Life Before Her Eyes by Laura Kasischke

I just finished reading an extremely moving, original and thought provoking book called Life Before Her Eyes. Unfortunately, I read it already knowing the ending (I Googled the movie version and read the plot on Wikipedia), but that still didn't deter my absorption in the plot of the book.

Let me start with the ending. Without giving away details, I was reminded of the a scene in the move Big Fish when Billy Cruddup's character tells his father, Albert Finney, of how he dies. Cruddup carries his Finney to the water through a crowd of applauding people from his father's "memories." This scene, along with the ending of the book, was like a fantasy. A dream.

The book opens with 2 best friends standing in their high school bathroom and who have just been confronted by one of their classmates who has just gone on a shooting rampage. He tells the girls that 1 of them will die and asks the blonde girl to choose which one. Hastily, she reacts with "Choose her, not me."

Fast-forward about 15 years and we are sitting in Diana's minivan (the blonde girl) waiting for her daughter Emma to come out of school. Diana thinks she's living the perfect life and is proud that she doesn't look her age. While the Diana as a teen was reckless and shall we say "loose," Diana at 40 is more self-conscious and cautious. As the book flows, you start to see future Diana's reality start to generate some holes and even some crossover with her past, but the detail is subtle. The flashback style of writing gives the reader a glimpse into the carefree life that Diana and her best friend had during their senior year of high school.

But, Diana becomes haunted by her behavior as a teen and her "choice" to live as she stared down the barrel of a gun and sees her own relationships become tender and vulnerable. As Diana's past self approaches the day of the shooting, her future self becomes increasingly suspicious that her "perfect life" is not so and starts to hear and see things, confusing reality with her memories. Is it the guilt from choosing her life over her friend's?

By the end of the book, Diana makes peace with her choices and feels satisfaction that what she was put on Earth to do has been accomplished. And even though there is immense sadness surrounding the events at the high school, you can't help but feel somewhat happy for her.

I'll let you read for yourself...

Watch the trailer for the movie starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood below:

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