If I only had one lifeline to use to make everyone pay attention to a book, I believe I would be using it right now. It is not every day that a story is written so honestly, so authentically, and so vividly, bravely tackling a difficult theme and showing that even without romanticising life and presenting it through a rosy filter, beauty can come from ugliness, and hope prevails all. Fading is a story that will stay with you and consume your every thought. It will make you thankful for the life you’ve lived or give you courage to accept the one you’ve survived. Once in a blue moon, something close to perfection is created and believe me when I tell you that this book is a fine example of such an achievement.
Before I start this review, I must warn you that this story is not for the faint-hearted. There is a crucial scene in this book that is very confronting and raw. It is necessary for the storyline, nothing would work without it, but if you prefer your reads to be on the ‘light and fun’ side, this is not the book for you. However, I hope you give this story a chance to overwhelm and blow you away as it has me, because Candace’s story is a rare gem to find and it deserved to be told as it is.
Born into a privileged upbringing, Candace has never wanted the life that her image-preoccupied parents had envisioned for her and expected her to embrace. Her loveless childhood has made her hungry for affection, acceptance, affirmation. While her parents always expected her to focus on finding a suitable husband, Candace dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina, a vocation she was not only passionate about, but also provided her the freedom to express her emotions through dance and forget, albeit only temporarily, the loneliness of reality.
“I feel like I am wasting away. But when I dance, it’s the only time my mind feels free of the pain that is constantly consuming it.”
But the pressure to please her mother and appease her demands, ultimately puts Candace in a situation no woman should ever find herself in, the result being the very traumatic event she needs to overcome in this book.
“I sit here, on the bottom of the shower, and everything I know about myself, everything I love, everything I am begins to fade.”
What follows is a long and painful journey back to living, not just existing. We are shown all the stages Candace needs to go through as a trauma survivor, and they are all flawlessly paced – nothing is rushed, forced, her recovery occurring organically and believably. By showing her pain and emotional turmoil through mundane actions, routine everyday events that might not appear to have much value plotline-wise, we are in fact made witnesses of this journey with her. We live it, breathe it, emotionally consume the pages delivering it. The focus is not on actions, but rather on Candace’s reactions to her new reality – her fears, her insecurities, her misguided guilt – such pace only authenticating the severity of her trauma and its realness.
“I don’t understand what I did that was so wrong.”
Wiping away my tears with his thumb, he says, “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Then why did this happen to me?”
Nothing is accidental in this story, every painful flashback giving us an insight into this tormented young woman’s mind, like puzzle pieces completing the full picture. The secondary characters play an important role in Candace’s road to recovery, each representing a different stage of this process, from enabling, through acceptance, to hope.
But this story is two-fold. While the heroine’s emotional journey is one aspect of it, an equally important and stunningly delivered one is the love story that ultimately frees her from the binds of her pain. Ryan’s love is the trigger that pulls her out of the darkness. Without being graphic in nature, their romance is truly one of the most beautiful and genuinely passionate tales I have ever read, with so much emotion frequently distilled into one single scene, one reaction, one moment in time.
“Being with you… that’s all I want.”
This book is a work of art because it is a sum of all its components. None of the plot deserves to be given away because each reader should experience it all firsthand and with no preconceptions. Beautifully written, immaculately entwined together, this is a debut novel that you will not want to miss. So far, one of my favourite reads of the year.
“When I look up in his eyes, I see all I ever want to see.”