10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE brings to light the anxiety that teenager Maeve struggles with on a daily basis, especially when it comes to death.
If you stopped by the bookstore lately, you might’ve seen this cover around, but you weren’t sure if you should take a chance on it. Well, first of all, 10 Things I Can See From Here is the U.S. debut novel by Canadian award-winning author Carrie Mac. Secondly, the story deals with how mental illness can often debilitate a person. And thirdly, there’s a little romance between the main female character and another teenage girl she meets.
10 Things I Can See From Here is about Maeve, a teenager who, when she was a young child, was witness to a person’s gruesome death by a train. Since that day, Maeve has had to deal with anxiety and the fear of death; she thinks of it so often it debilitates her from doing fairly normal routines, such as driving a car.
Her mind often conjures up worst-case scenario situations, like if her mother doesn’t text back immediately, she can start off thinking of something so simple as her mom napping to it escalating with thoughts of her mom getting killed in a car accident because she was trying to text back. Maeve constantly does this, and constantly places blame on herself for these non-existent incidents.
She does it so often that she doesn’t believe her family take her as seriously as she, or her thoughts, does. And at times, she is right.
That’s what we examine as we go through Maeve’s story.
Now, Maeve is a little hard to take in, somewhat unbelievable, especially if you don’t have the same anxiety that she suffers from. Many of us don’t, because most of us haven’t seen another person run over by a train. As that is what sets off Maeve’s issues, we should know that we aren’t going to truly understand all of what she does… or doesn’t, do. We’re not supposed to.
As a reader, author Carrie Mac is not only trying to inform us of what anxiety can be like – there were moments in the book that even gave me some anxiety – but it’s also working on us to be a more empathic person. We may not fully comprehend what is happening in another person’s mind, especially those with mental issues, but we can and should learn to.
I have to admit, I found Maeve to be frustrating in the first third of the book. Her refusal to overcome her fears had me shaking my head constantly. But as I read on, I found myself understanding her more and more. I began rooting for her to finally take on a challenge, and with the connection she made with Salix, the fellow teenage girl that she encounters, you can finally see Maeve having an easier time in overcoming some of her fears.
The author doesn’t hurry in healing Maeve either, but she doesn’t toss away our hope that Maeve may someday finally be free of her fears and anxiety. We really get to know Maeve’s way of thinking, and we get to know how her relationship with her family affects her, whether in a good way or bad way.
Even as I say that most of us have not the same anxiety disorder that Maeve does, that doesn’t mean that those that do wouldn’t understand Maeve’s story. On the contrary, it probably gives more reason for them to want to read this book. They might possibly have a connection with the character in a way they’ve not had before.
That in itself is a moment that author Carrie Mac can be proud of. The family issues that Maeve deals with probably happen more frequently than we’d like, but so goes with families and and parentals.
Although Maeve is a lesbian, the book doesn’t saturate us with that part of Maeve. Sure, there’s a romance in the story, but Carrie doesn’t try to make her being having a romance with the same sexl any more romantic or sexier than if it were with the opposite sex. It’s still quite romantic, as it should be, and they still go through through issues that other gay/lesbian people go through because of their sexual preference.
As far as the characters go, not all of them are likeable, but it’s just another facet of the realism of the story. Not everyone is likeable, not even family sometimes. But despite the problems you might have with them, they are realistic.
For those reasons, I enjoyed 10 Things I Can See From Here for the way it brought us through Maeve’s personal journey of self-discovery and mental courage. I can only hope that you find the empathy with such characters, especially because those people exist in our world, and they need us to understand them.
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