Mine by Emily Merrill – a contemporary novel of choices, relationships and even danger for women
Avery thinks that she is in love. At least her first boyfriend, Luke, has been on the scene for four years, and knows that he has been at her side through many trials and tribulations with her family. Avery is an attractive, lively student of English at York University where she has made several good friends. She works hard, keeps in touch with her younger sister Stella and father and loves to write fiction. She seems to be on course for a happy life, but this novel reveals the truth behind one of her relationships. Not as a sudden revelation, but as a painful realisation that all is not well.
This is a book which deals with domestic violence in a gradual way. It looks at with it sensitivity, making the point that it is not always possible for other people to see what is happening outside the relationship. It also conveys the fact that there is no limitations to those it can affect; Avery is twenty, with no children, relatively affluent and well educated, resourceful and with family support. Having said that, this is a not a book of preaching or anecdotes, designed to change the world. It is a well written novel, with lively and often funny dialogue, characters that feel realistic, and a setting which is understandable and easy to relate to. Overall I found this an engaging, fascinating and challenging book which I was glad to read in virtually one sitting, and am pleased I have the opportunity to review it.
The narrative of this novel opens with two events. Luke moves to York to work his father’s accountants’ firm, also to be near Avery. Avery enjoys writing fiction while studying, and has discovered a quiet coffee shop which has friendly staff, good hot chocolate and most importantly, a good atmosphere in which to write. She enters the shop one day only to discover a young man working on his own novel sitting in her seat. She is excited when he introduces himself as Beckett, successful author and willing to encourage Avery with her writing. She begins to find out that he studied the same course as she is on, and that he represents a possible alternative career. Meanwhile she tries to see something of her friends, all strong and interesting characters, especially Eliza, who are also studying and greatly enjoy each others’ company. Avery also feels very responsible for her younger sister and father, following her mother’s departure from the family home several years before. Avery is a young woman who has much going on for her, but as Luke begins to criticise her choices, alarms begin to sound.
In a way this is a powerful book with much to say about the choices young women face with the example of older women in front of them. It also has much to say about jealousy and control, attraction, love and loyalty. It is essentially a novel with a somewhat disturbing theme, but also a lot to say about life and love in the twenty first century. It deals with an abusive relationship thoughtfully and accordingly has an unusual depth and important message for all of its readers.