For What It's Worth

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi


15756269Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftops to rooftop. 

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…
After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crisis. But can you hold on too tight? Too long? 
In this intense novel, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend…and how many ways to be lost. ~ Goodreads | Author | Amazon
Review:

I absolutely adored Avasthi's debut YA novel SPLIT (my review) . That book was something special, looking at domestic violence from the boys POV. It was about the history of violence in a family and how it changes and shapes your future.

I've been patiently waiting for her to publish another book. When I received Chasing Shadows I was ecstatic but also had reservations. The characters are freerunner's  ("defined as the art of expressing oneself in his or her environment without limitation" wikedpedia ) and the story is told in both prose and graphic art. I wasn't sure this would feel accessible to me as a reader since I don't know much about either art form. And while I admit to a small adjustment period, I was completely enthralled with this story and characters once I let go.

Chasing Shadows is about grief in all its forms. How it breaks families, ruins friendships and drowns you in sorrow and guilt. It's also about survival and grasping that one thread of hope that makes life worth living.

Corey, Holly (twins) and Sav (Holly's best friend & Corey's girlfriend) are inseparable until a horrific tragedy that changes everything.

The story is told through alternating chapters between Holly and Savitri as they struggle to maintain sanity and friendship after Corey's death.

I've been feeling ranty about "issue" books lately. The market is kind of flooded right now with characters that have all kinds of abusive pasts and disorders. I don't discount them at all but I also don't feel they are given the weight and respect such topics deserve. Everything is swept away by a little angst and romance. Not so with Chasing Shadows.

As both Holly and Sav struggle, to move on - stay still - hang on - let go, we are swept into the world of the Shadowland. This is where Holly becomes a superhero, The Leopardess, and heroically clings to Corey while also losing herself bit by bit and Sav sacrifices everything to be whatever Holly needs.
Chasing Shadows is unflinching in it's portrayal of grief. The two girls, their families and friends each handle the loss of Corey in different ways. It would be easy to pity Sav or be angry at Holly for being so selfish at times but what resonates the most is the honesty of their feelings. There is no one way to grieve. They all make mistakes and do things that can't be undone. But grief shapes you. Both good and bad. It's just a matter of how you come out the other side.

"The damage we do to ourselves, by our own hands, sometimes that's even worse that what's been done to us."

It sounds sad and it is, but it's also so compelling that you are sucked right into the world of these three friends and freerunning. Hoping, praying that just maybe…The Leopardess is real and Corey can be saved from the Shadowlands.

"When you are hurting that much, it may be easier to crawl into someone else's skin. And whose better than a hero's? I suspect that there are times when anything, anything, seems better than the hell you are living in."

Final thoughts: Chasing Shadows was a heartbreakingly beautiful story about love, loss, friendship and limits. Avasthi tackles death and grief head on. I absolutely adored that this was about two girlfriends. There wasn't any romance or boys to magically make things better. This is an intense book but I appreciated the honesty in relation to the topic.

* I was part of the Chasing Shadows blog tour earlier this month and Swati wrote one of my favorite guest posts that I've ever had on the blog. if you get a chance check it out - Making Heroines

20 comments:

  1. Story and graphic art...that is different, I wonder how it looks

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  2. Reading your review, I was thinking how sad the story sounded then got to your, "It sounds sad and it is...". I'm terrible about reading sad stories, no matter how compelling (It took me until last week to read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, for example). Definitely sounds like one I need to get in our HS library, though!

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    1. I can't lie - it's sad lol

      I'm kind of weird when it comes to sad stories. As a general rule I don't like or read them but there have been a few that I love. As long as they are honest and have some sort of hope in them.

      I've had Fault in Our Stars on my shelf forever and I won't read it lol

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  3. In the mood for a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, this sounds like it ticks all the boxes.

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  4. oh adding this book to the reading pile. Great review

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  5. Oh my--this sounds heartbreaking! I remember all the crazy good reviews for SPLIT and was curious about the author, but still haven't gotten around to reading anything by her yet. I am terrible about reading "issue" books too, but it sounds like things were beautifully handled here. Always rare to find books about grief that are written about in a way that you can connect with. Thanks for the review!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. You should read Split too.

      The great thing about Avathi's writing is that it doesn't feel like an "issue" book. It's about the character and story first - the fact that you might learn something from it is just a bonus.

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  6. I think I remember seeing your updates for this. I don't know about this artform either, but I do love emotionally intense stories. It's clear that you were truly affected by Chasing Shadows.

    Beautiful review, Karen!

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    1. I love Swati's writing so I was excited to read it but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

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  7. This sounds like a book I need. Love the quote you have there as well. Honestly I might have passed this one by if it wasn't for your review. Yep! Added it to my wishlist!

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    1. I thought those two quotes really captured the story the most. Hope you like it!

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  8. I still haven't read Split, and definitely want to read one or the other of these. Or both!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. There's a broken - unreliable narrator Jen! lol

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  9. I'm glad to hear this isn't an issues book that can be fixed with a "band-aid." I think when the author is able to write a book about a difficult subject in a raw and honest with no easy path to fix it is realistic and beautiful.

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  10. I'm with you about issue books. There are a few good ones but some are overkill. Why not just give the characters a butter knife to kill themselves? As far as this is concerned, it sounds like the author achieved a good balance.

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    1. Avasthi doesn't just make everything sunshine and rainbows because you fall in love and I really appreciate that. The characters have to work to heal themselves. But she's not hitting you over the head with despair.

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  11. I like issue books when they tackle the topics in a realistic nature, so I'm glad this is one of those. I do want to read this. It sounds great, and I like the mix of narrative and graphic pictures.

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  12. I don't do issue books as a rule, but I think I would definitely make an exception for this one (and the other book by the author you mentioned). Because this sounds completely intense and fantastic! The graphic art intrigues me.

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    1. It is intense but not preachy. I love the way she writes about series issues but in a new way that I hadn't thought of before.

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