This was my first Janet Fitch novel (I haven't read White Oleander
yet) and even though the material was dark, I think it was a very important subject to explore.
The story begins with Michael's suicide. His suicide represents the despair of not being able to meet his ideals of perfectionism. To me Michael was relatable because I too struggle with perfectionism and procrastination.
Josie, his girlfriend, is left to come to terms with this situation. To me she represents the authentic self and overcomes the situation by becoming Michael. To her, this journey is an expansion of her own self, when she retraces his final steps and uncovers the "unusual" relationship he has with his mother, Meredith. I really liked Josie and was rooting for her from the beginning.
What I also really liked about the book was all the musical, poetry, and 80's related references. This really helped define who Michael and Josie were, but also the decade itself. Fitch depicts L.A. really well and even though I've never been there, I could vividly see in my mind everything that was being described; which gave the book a unique perspective in place you don't usually experience in a narrative story, but at the same time, gave it a lot of dimension and texture.
All in all, I think Fitch did an impressive job of getting down into a difficult collective experience and opening it up so that all readers of this book can come to terms with the difficult things that have happened to them, and for that I thank her so much.