Dark, Diversity, Edelweiss, Fiction, Loved-it, Magical realism, Women's

Haunting, Haunted, Sad and Diverse – In Case I Go by Angie Abdou A book that can't decide between horror and historical, and that's a good thing

In Case I Go caught my eye instantly. The blurb makes you feel like it’s a book struggling with its identity – should I be a horror? A historical novel? Just a contemporary with magical realism? AND I LOVE THIS. Mixtures between genres make the best stories! If you’ve stumbled upon a book you can’t place in a certain genre – ALWAYS GRAB IT, and that is the rule – unless you want to keep reading generic predictable stories?

Eli is a ten year old boy, born prematurely, homeschooled and raised basically as a small adult. There are many problems with Eli’s family – his parents drifting apart, drinking, finding other lovers. But the biggest one of all isn’t quite that. His parents just won’t let Eli be a child. On the other hand, he doesn’t really think or function as a child either. He’s like a 40 year old, trapped in a child’s body… And this is where things get interesting. Where you start wondering if things are the way they are, if Eli is who you think he is.

As Eli moves into the old family hometown his parents just moved back to, he meets Mary, a neighbour’s niece. But Eli is such an unreliable narrator… After all, he’s just a ten year old troubled child. We start realizing that Eli hasn’t just met one Mary. He’s met several… And the worst thing is that he can’t tell who is who, including himself. Why does he suddenly have these strange memories of a grown up? Why does he long for a ghostly woman who, he knows, isn’t quite real, isn’t the same Mary he’s met at the neighbours? This is where the story gets wonderfully convoluted. Not everything will be answered, but it’s perfect that way. It keeps the secret.

And Eli changes. Perhaps that’s why he’s never been quite like a child. Perhaps that’s why he was born so battered and broken that he barely survived. We learn how lives are connected in weird ways, and it’s all about heritage – native American heritage, Muslim heritage, Italian, Polish… You name it. I loved how the author treated these particularities. Collision of cultures, secrets, how badly the white society messed up in dealing with anyone else that’s not like them. The hurt, the racism, the severance of cultures. I loved this book for that.

(okay, so it’s very hard to find a Native American GIF that’s not made with Blingee!)

In the end, all I can sum this up into is that it’s not horror, it’s not a thriller, and yet it’s also not young adult or contemporary. It’s impossible to place and that’s why it’s beautiful. It’s wistful, it’s sad. It’s a love song to all the souls lost in the transition of “culture”, from native to forced westernization, the loss of values. Cultural defilement of the natives.

I loved this book, but… There is only one quibble I had with it and I must mention it, but it’s a detail, not much related to the story. I’ll put it in a spoiler tag. There are always those things that bother me in books about women who have many men. Inexperienced women, no protection, pre-protection times even… no babies. I’m just sick and tired of that in books (and movies). Load of bull. Please stop feeding it to me. If this wasn’t a problem, contraception would not be an industry. I want the media to stop telling everyone that it’s not a big deal, because for a woman? It is. And we talk about it. We don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

So despite that little spoiler there (which isn’t really much of a spoiler), I truly and wholeheartedly recommend the story. It’s very emotional, it’s worth your time and empathy. I know I’d love to read something by Angie Abdou again!

I thank Angie Abdou and Arsenal Pulp Press for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Do you like books that don’t belong to any particular genre? Could you recommend me some?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

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Paul Liadis
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This sounds really interesting.

And that is quite a catching book cover and title. Well done, whomever designed that!

Brian Joseph
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Great commentary on this book.

It sounds very good. I like stories that transcend genres. Too many books fall within cookie cutter categories and it is a good thing when those categories get blurred.

Anna Pittman
Guest

I’ve actually haven’t had much luck with the in-between-genre books! Sometimes a book doesn’t know which genre it wants to be in, and then badly tries to fit into multiple ones. I’m glad that wasn’t your experience! In Case I Go sounds like a very unique and interesting novel!

carol
Guest

Sounds really interesting, although perhaps a bit too emotional for me.

Laura Thomas
Guest

I always grab books that defy categories and genres. You review is so lovely!

Wattle
Guest

I love the sound of this one, books that can’t be pinned to just one genre are often so fascinating, and this looks to have a great plot. Definitely going to check it out for myself, thank you for sharing 🙂

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Jackie B.
Guest
I appreciate this review so much, Evelina! It’s hard to write about suspense/horror/thriller type books without giving things away. You did a great job! If anything, I’m just more curious about this book now than before I read your review. Sneaky sneaky! I don’t typically like anything spooky, so I don’t know if I’ll pick this book up, however. You mentioned some hints of magical realism in your intro– where does this come into play in In Case I Go? Oooh, cross-genre books which are challenging to label? The only one I can think of right now is The Canterbury… Read more »
Dani @ Perspective of a Writer
Guest

Such a compelling review Evelina… it’s intriguing to know that the narrator is unreliable for some reason… but I TOTALLY agree about fusion books… sometimes they are a mess but I just ten$ to love them and have so much fun! ♥️ I think I need to TBR this!

kimbacaffeinate
Guest

I like that this is a genre bender and doesn’t quite fit anywhere. You have me curious.

Jenna @ Falling Letters
Guest

Glad you enjoyed this one! I was just reading about it the other day in article from Quill & Quire (Canadian magazine about writing and publishing) “Angie Abdou on seeking permission to use First Nations stories”. I was impressed by the process Abdou undertook. I’m not sure if this is a book for me, but your comment on how it’s impossible to place has me curious.

Lashaan Balasingam
Guest

The cover and title had me intrigued enough, but your review got me super curious about it all now! It does sound like a wonderful story. The whole identity thing especially piqued my curiosity; not knowing who’s who. Great review, Evelina! 😀

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[…] not a book I requested, but a book that I was offered by the author, after she read my review of In Case I Go. It’s a book on a similar topic, as far as I know, so I agreed to review it when I have […]