Who You Think I Am by Camille Laurens


“Yes, that’s it, I’m no longer operational, I’ve blown a fuse, if you like, or blown a gasket, tripped a switch, and whee! I’ve spun out of control…”

Whoa, there are times when readers are mislead by interesting book cover art. Not so here! I started reading the first few pages annoyed at the mad ravings, the sentences that went on and on, manic even-but it fits and after that… gorgeous literary fiction! There is anger, passion, some mad musings and if there is a disorder for highlighting too much then I now have it. Maybe it’s because I am 41 that I related to the anger women feel in double standards, the hypocrisy of it all! Something happens when you are dismissed, overlooked, made to feel like an old cow set out to pasture. Yes, we all know the argument- you can only be made to feel that way if you allow it. Pfft!

We follow Claire Millecam as she creates a fake identity with a social media profile. Here she becomes young, beautiful Claire Attunes, not to win the affections of  Chris but initially to spy on her fickle lover Joe through Chris’s social media page. Claire tangles the web she weaved, now the spider sits in her web and Chris jumps right in but who is the real victim? Becoming young, she is now worthy of wooing, she is fascinating, fresh and new! It isn’t long before Claire is seduced by the connection she and Chris have made. Chris (whom she admits she was jealous of)  as Joe’s friend has usurped her place! He told her, unseen over the phone- “Go Die” loaded with spitting cruelty. “People throw themselves out of windows for less than that, don’t they? Plenty here would. They’ve been bashed around by so many words they start to wobble. Go die. Go Die. Other people’s words follow them around like hostile ghosts.” She is falling in love, but can it be love when she isn’t who she says she is? There is a violence in fiction, and the lies turn on her leading to fatal consequences or is it all deception? The reader is the fly, truth be told, because we are played with throughout! Just when we’ve dug our feet in and are on solid ground, the author erases everything, and the reader is left on thin air, just as Claire’s love is thin air.

I understand I am rambling, but I devoured this in two nights!  Claire argues with us and herself in the telling, she loses the plot, there is a comfort in insanity, an anchor in believing the horrible things that passed were done in the name of love. We deceive ourselves so dreadfully to live with  what befalls us in the name of love. It’s not just her head we climb into. Joe’s cold dismissive nature of women is sort of funny and delusional too. “My life- he seemed to think with one last pitying look at my apartment, my books, my face- my life wouldn’t mean much now that his was going to be so wonderful on the far side of the world. Being happy isn’t enough, you also need other people to be unhappy: it’s a recognized formula.” Is his vain attitude any worse than a woman’s clinging despair? Let it be said, there are plenty of female Joe’s in the world too. Off they go to better, shinier things and imagine you remain behind, like an unloved abandoned haunted house. Sometimes we take up that role, be if we’re smart, we shake it off and move on.

Reader, be warned, you are lied to.  But to get to the gooey center of truth requires sifting through the wreckage. This is one of the most unique literally fictions I’ve read in a long time. There is nothing I love more than dredging the dark corners of the mind, getting past the ‘social mask’ we wear, be it media or not. Even through Claire’s disastrous moments I found myself laughing. It’s hard to take a man seriously when he is acting belligerent and silly. Being a woman requires crocodile skin, if you make it past your ‘expiration date’ of say, 25- you must toughen up. Claire is becoming an angry victim , she isn’t playing nice and her deception is brutal too. As a woman I can well relate to the wide eyed, harsh reality many women face as they age in comparison to men. I also can see young women (not all, some) being just as ugly about older women, not realizing they are looking at themselves in the future. Don’t be put off by some self-indulgent whining, we all have a right to it now and then, so long as you don’t get swallowed up by it. But men and women of any age can relate to being ejected by a lover from your place in their life. So long sucker! Loved this and it is not a novel I can easily explain, I feel I am failing the author because it’s original and I can’t express myself clearly. The deceptive dark side of our online persona is exposed here but it is misleading to imagine the novel purely a social media story, because it’s not. There is a lot of fat to chew on when it comes to how we manipulate others and ourselves online, how we are vulnerable hidden behind a screen and yet the reader could ignore all that and still come away with one heck of a story about love and self-deception. Read it! Just read it for yourself!  “Every night I howl with terror at the thought of being a woman.” Claire has blown a fuse, no doubt about it!

Publication Date: March 28, 2o17

Other Press 


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