Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock
Three tragic souls; one fateful weekend.
Interests/Topics: politics, environment, friendship, family relations, poetry, on-line relationships, mental health
Curriculum Connections: English, Environmental Studies, Health and Physical Education
Blurb: First jobs are, in most cases, pretty liberating. You are viewed as a semi-adult, you make a bit of spending money, and can you be away from your annoying siblings for hours on end. Freedom is out there and first jobs give you a taste of what it’s like.
Most first jobs aren’t too great, but that’s not the point. It’s not like you are going to be in clothing sales or fast-food services for the rest of your life or anything. I’m a long way from my first “career” as a busgirl at a fancy French restaurant. I no longer wear a tuxedo shirt or a bow tie, and I’d like to think that I don’t eat nearly as many baguettes.
Max, in Before My Eyes, has spent the summer working his first job at the Snack Shop. He certainly doesn’t intend to spend his life selling soft-serve ice cream cones, and wouldn’t be there in the first place if his father didn’t insist that it was good press for a senator’s son to have a menial job. While his parents remain obsessively focused on his father’s re-election, Max just wants to finish out the Labor Day weekend and quit his job for good. Scoring a stash of pills wouldn’t be too bad either.
Claire could care less about the holiday weekend; she just wants her family to be back to the way it was before her mom had a stroke. Her dad is never around, and her six-year-old sister has no one else to look out for her. She has no one who understands how she feels until she meets a new “friend” on the internet.
Barkley thinks that he has all the answers to everything; but then again, he spends far too much time listening to the voice in his head.
A senator’s son, a lonely girl, and a paranoid schizophrenic: three tragic souls linked by one fateful weekend.
Flavour: Max—“Two more days of work, and then Sunday—and Sunday night, the party. I groan. This is the last weekend before my last year of high school. I wish I could take a pill and have the whole year be over….One more weekend. One last weekend.” (40-41)
Claire—“What do I want? I just want a guy who isn’t my father. A guy who doesn’t need me to take care of everything. But who would want someone like me? I run my hands through the length of my hair and then across my dry lips as if checking that I’m whole. I know that I don’t need my father or some guy. I can do this all just fine. Except, isn’t there something or someone who will make me forget who I am—let me be someone other than the good daughter and sister—let me imagine that if I stood on the shore, the distance between the sea and the possibility of land was only as far as I could swim.” (110)
Barkley—“Last night, I could not act in the dark of the woods. Nevertheless, this morning, I am in the tent. Inside the whiteness. All is within my vision, a wide shot….I have been given clarity. There are those among us who are given the gift of blazing foresight, and I am one of them. After this, I will never be alone. This is the morning, the morning to cut off the evil from the land, the voice signals. Action.” (257)