04/06/2007

If you could see me now (by Cecelia Ahern)

Cecelia Ahern's first book, 'PS I love you', was a best-seller that I didn't particularly like. Great concept, excellent start... but it became progressively more unrealistic (in my view, anyway) and I found the narrative rather confusing.

But when I saw ' If you could see me now' second-hand, I thought it worth trying. I haven't heard much about this, and had little idea what to expect. I was captivated!

It's about imaginary friends. Yes, those imaginary friends that so many small children acquire for a few months. But the imaginary friends in this book are real. Part of the story is related by one called Ivan. It's not an easy job being an imaginary friend. Most people can't see them, and even those that do stop needing them after a while. And then they stop seeing them too.

Ivan is just moving on to a new 'best friend' when the book opens. He is seen by Luke, a likeable six-year-old boy who's surprisingly well-balanced despite a very unusual background. He has no father; his mother is an alcoholic ' free spirit' and he lives with his aunt Elizabeth, who appears to be an uptight obsessive-compulsive who only gave a home to Luke because she felt it her moral duty.

But Elizabeth sees Ivan too. This is almost unheard of. Ivan appears to be about her age, and there's a mutual attraction. Elizabeth doesn't - or won't - understand that he is imaginary, although Luke seems to understand quite easily.

It's partly a book about love, although not a romance in any traditional sense. It's also about coming to terms with the past, and unlocking creative freedom - yet it's not at all heavy. I didn't quite believe in any of the people - except perhaps Ivan, ironically! - but they weren't unpleasant caricatures. The writing was very fluid and the story flowed well.

Recommended.

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