I've found Adam
This post presents me with a problem. The problem is how to communicate the fact that although Caroline is my friend, my very very dear friend who I have come to love and respect over the few months that we have known each other online, everything I am about to say is irrespective of that friendship.
So. Please take me at my word and I will begin.
Yesterday at 14.35 pm I had my copy of Caroline's new novel In Search of Adam placed into my hands by Clare Weber in The Friday Project offices. I was going in to town to get a train back out to South East London, for an appointment. By 14.50 I was walking into the underground at St James's Park tube. I took a picture of the book in my hand. I didn't know it was a 'before' moment. The beginning of a 'before and after'.
The train arrived. I sat down. I opened the book and began to read. By page 3 I was crying. On the tube. In front of people.
I need to qualify something here - I don't do crying at books, or films, or TV or music. The only book which has ever previously moved me to sob was JG Ballard's The Kindness of Women. Media which touches me with that depth is rare. The film Gallipoli, the death of Mark Green in ER - it has happened so rarely that I remember each occasion. It's not that I lack empathy, but I find it hard to entirely suspend my understanding that this is a film / book / tv show.
So. At page 3 I began crying. I didn't stop crying (or reading) until several hours later when I had reached the end. I am a fast reader, I am prone to reading books in one sitting, can eat up 2 novels on a transatlantic flight. But. But this was about Jude. Caroline has created a character who was so real to me, so utterly completely alive for me, that I didn't want to leave her alone. In the moments when I was not reading, when I was crossing the street, in the appointment, stepping on to and off of various trains, I ached to be back with her. I wanted to reach into the book and put my arms around her. I wanted to whisper I am here. I am listening. You are not alone. At times I felt that Jude knew I was there. I don't think I have ever experienced that with a book before. Have you?
ISoA is a sad book. A moving, desperately tragic story. But. But it's not a miserable book. It is without self-consciousness. Without drama. Without sentimentality. Which is remarkable considering the fact that it is a book about child abuse, written from the child's perspective.
There are lots of ways in which ISoA is a clever book too. The use of different fonts and sizes and symbols and the graphic layout of words on the page is not a gimmick. Caroline was once slated for having 'got her book deal with a few fancy fonts'. That is not the case. ISoA is bordering on visual art. The use of the fonts, the use of repetition, the layout of words on the page, they are a powerful multiplier of Jude's voice - they tell you things which Jude does not have the understanding or confidence to articulate. They add a layer of meta communication. They are crucial to the story, core to the writing. They are not formatting - weren't added as an afterthought ... I feel that this is how the words came out.
If I had millions of pounds I would have hundreds of thousands of copies of ISoA printed and issue them to every parent, teacher, nurse, doctor, social worker, psychologist, therapist, youth worker and politician in the country. I would simply ask them to read 3 pages, and know that they would read the rest.
But I don't. So, I will have to rely on the fact that I don't believe you can read a book like ISoA and not tell people about it. That people who have met Jude will carry her story to others. And they will, because, in short, In Search of Adam is a before and after book.