This is the first time I made a draft before writing a review. It better work well with any kind of writer block, though calling myself a writer is a little far-fetched. In Malaysia, we get everything except for books, on time for reasonable price. I’ve been searching all over for The Great Escape, ever since it was announced. However, I only managed to get hold of it now, after a year of being published. I had huge expectation for this one. Only because I loved Call Me Irresistible too much. Were my expectations met? Well, we’ll have to come back to that later.
Before I go any further, this post has SPOILER ALERTS all over. I haven’t master the mysterious skills yet. Or if I ever will. So if you don’t want to be influenced by my views before reading it for yourself, don’t cancel the window as yet. Feel free to roam around in my blog, reading other posts.
If you have read CMI , you would have known TGE is Lucy Jorik’s story. Lucy, the ex-president’s daughter who cancelled off her wedding with Ted Beaudine, right before walking down the aisle and took the run of her life. She was picked up by dangerous looking biker, Panda who she gets to know of his bad table manners and rudeness later on. She paid him to allow her to tag along his voyage and to discover the real Lucy Jorik. When finally got dropped off at the Memphis Airport with a lingering, deep departing kiss from Panda, she realized she was lied upon by her parents and Panda himself. Feeling utterly cheated and completely uninterested to get back to the mess she left behind, she left in search of Panda in Great Lakes Island. What unfolds on the island and the evolution of their relationship form the rest of the story.
First of all, I didn’t like the choice of name of Panda for a man. I can’t take him seriously. I can’t visualize his hotness. Or maybe his earlier pretense of male chauvinism and extremely disgusting table manners just put me off too much and I never moved on from there. I hated the cheap dodgy motels, his unwashed ragged jeans and stomach-scratching burping-out-loud habits. The only thing I found fine were the rude bumper stickers, but that’s the badass side of me talking. His real name revealed to be Patrick Shade, which is definitely better than Panda. His past sounded believable, though he seemed confused all the time. I couldn’t find the consistency in his characterization like in Kevin’s, Heath’s nor Ted’s. If that’s what was intended by Susan, she succeeded then.
Lucy Jorik. A woman with wasted potential. She has a strong personality, high perseverance, sensitive towards her surroundings, smart and responsible. For such a woman, turning her life into a mess should have had a better reason than to be a badass alone. I was expecting all along for a strong reason of her running out on Ted. I was expecting something like his love didn’t fulfil her soul or she isn’t able of loving him completely or he did turn her off in some unexplainable ways. But all she did was putting herself down and worship him on the pedestal. She kept saying Ted was perfect, but not once she thought perfect is not what she seeks. In fact she doesn’t know what she seeks. Her intimacy with Panda stayed till bedroom. There wasn’t much connection between them. Or nothing like Meg and Ted’s.
I can’t help but keep comparing these two stories together, because they do happen simultaneously and we already know how things unfolded in Wynette. The whole town was unfair to Meg, even Ted until a large point of time. Not even once they thought Lucy ran off because of her own fault. They kept blaming it on Meg and she took it all with head held high. Why such bias? Is it because Meg is loud, outspoken, straightforward, bold and lives life according to her own formula? So, if one decided to stand out from the rest, she is entitled to be judged unscrupulously? The world can’t entertain that an always righteous Lucy is not completely free from committing mistakes. And what appalled me further is the fact that Lucy didn’t do anything to change it for Meg. She left her messy life for Meg to handle without even returning to make things right. Meg was a great friend to Lucy, but did she return the favour? In fact there wasn’t any closure to what she did to Ted either. Or it was done ‘off-screen’. I wanted to listen to her explanations to Ted so badly. The whys. And I thought after Meg’s intervention in Ted’s life, he would be a little more vocal about his disappointments. That would have been interesting to know.
Of course the main reason I didn’t like TGE is because I didn’t feel connected to Lucy. I didn’t lose my biological parents when I was 14, I didn’t have a baby sister to protect, I wasn’t adopted, I didn’t have a president for a mother, I didn’t have Secret Service at my disposal and I never lived in another skin. Nor I’m as righteous as she was. This reason alone could have made me feel detached from the whole story. Not to mention the font. Too small that I needed to squint my eyes and look for magnifying glass.
That said, now to what I liked and loved about it. I loved the cover. Pink flowers with a bride in white turning her back to her wedding. Artistic and self-explanatory. As far as I could remember, this is the only book of Susan’s that has an apt cover, corresponding to the story. I loved the island. Fresh and raw. The whole summer time recollections of the Remingtons, Star and Mike’s are so nostalgic that they made me smile. Made me wish to know more of them, instead of indulging in Lucy’s daily routines of doing nothing but complaining about her life. Toby was another darling and the evolution of his relationship with Bree felt much more believable than Panda falling for Lucy, or vice versa. Bree had half of the qualities Meg had. This is what Susan’s women are made of. Thus Lucy stands out weak amongst them. I was waiting eagerly for the two telephone conversations between Meg and Lucy. One, right before Lucy sleeps with Panda and another, before Meg hooks up with Ted. They felt so tender and real, like how two best friends would be to each other. To convince one another to do the thing that pleases us despite it being politically wrong. I just wished Lucy and Meg consulted each other a little more before making their major decisions in life. Like Meg running out of Ted once he said he can’t love her yet, or Lucy before putting up the huge act to draw Panda’s attention again. I mean you’re best friends with each other. You can’t just turn for sexual advices and leave out life changing events. As usual I loved how Susan promotes family support to be the backbone of every individual. The epilogue felt too good to be true. But it gave me the similar feeling 19yearslater Harry Potter epilogue gave me. All was well.
In acknowledgement, Susan mentioned that we, readers are pushy lot. She’s right in the sentiments. If she intended to give Lucy a story right when she’s writing Meg, she would have thought of the knots to tie. Or at least she would have taken her own time, when it’s right for Lucy to have a story. It isn’t the right time for Lucy to come out of her shell. I felt like eating a half-cooked lasagna for dinner after being all so excited since breakfast. And I’m craving to reread Call Me Irresistible and have it prolonged without an end.