Title: Look At Me
Author: Jennifer Egan
Narrator: Rachel Warren
Format: MP3 CDs
Duration: 20 hours and 6 minutes
Source: Audiobook Jukebox
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are drawn in by sarcastic humor and character introspection.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
At the start of this edgy and ambitiously multilayered novel, a fashion model named Charlotte Swenson emerges from a car accident in her Illinois hometown with her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. She returns to New York still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world she once effortlessly occupied. With the surreal authority of a David Lynch, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with the image. There’s a deceptively plain teenage girl embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who changes names and accents as he prepares an apocalyptic blow against American society. As these narratives inexorably converge, Look at Me becomes a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture.
Rachel Warren does a pretty good job of narrating both young and old Charlotte. She makes them easy enough to discern from one another. However what I really missed was the emotional depth in her reading. This book deals with a lot of life changing issues and I would have liked to hear it more in the reading. Still, it was a good rendition!
Audio Book Rating: 3/5 - Your choice. Worth a listen!
It's hard to truly describe my feelings about this book. It's not that Jennifer Egan isn't an excellent writer. Quite the opposite actually, she's very good at creating characters with depth and breadth. The problem, for me, was in the writing. This is a massively over-written book. Points that could have been wrapped up in a matter of sentences were drawn out and wordy. At points the writing felt so convoluted that I almost gave up. I feel like this book could have been much shorter and still been wonderfully done.
That being said, the book itself is rather compelling and the story is the major reason that I kept on reading. Egan dives into the human psyche, taking a look at how our outward appearance really affects the way we perceive ourselves and are perceived by others. She does an stellar job of creating three characters who show this in their own ways. Toeing the themes of attraction, obsession, and mental illness, Look At Me is much more intellectual than it seems on the surface.
The parallels between young Charlotte and older Charlotte were intriguing. I especially enjoyed taking a look inside the psyche of a teenage girl who feels like she is looking in from the outside. It made for a rough read at some points, and I'm sure there are people who will be offended by the choices she makes, but it was still an interesting read. My other gripe about this book was mainly Moose as a character. He is so broken, so mentally destroyed, that being in his head actually hurts. I could have done without him, honestly.
I'd recommend that if you do decide to tackle this lengthy read, you pass on the audio version. Although it did help me keep my characters separated by voice, the length of the book is actually exacerbated by the audio. About three quarters of the way through I was fairly ready to be done with Look At Me. Try this is you're a reader who enjoys contemporary reads that deal with real life issues and have deep characters.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.