I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
What initially drew me to Please, Pretty Lights was the music scene. I love most of the bands from the 90's mentioned in this story - they make up the soundtrack of my high school years, getting me through the teenage angst and making me feel as though I was invincible. Against the backdrop of the Seattle music scene, Via's story came to life.
In the beginning of Please, Pretty Lights, when Via meets with her uncle, I couldn't help thinking how lifeless this character seemed as though someone had sucked all the joy from her life. Just in this short scene, I learned much about her. I knew she was an interesting character with a lot going on internally and was protecting herself from outward scrutiny of the trauma she suffered early in life. She was going through the motions without really and truly living. But most of all she was on the precipice of self-destruction, hanging by a thread.
I could identify with Via's yearning to escape her past and find a new way to live that might make her feel alive and happy. Her internal debate with what she wanted to do versus what she thought she should do was so realistic it was almost painful. Although I definitely didn't agree with some of the choices she made, especially those that put her in danger (I was scared for her at times), I didn't want her to remain imprisoned by her childhood trauma either. The choices she ended up making landed her in a downward spiral of self-destruction - easy to fall into but so hard to leave.
I definitely don't mean to romanticize this story. It's dark and gritty with a glimpse into the world of drugs and stripping. Reading Via's story was at times downright heartbreaking, but I couldn't look away. I didn't even think about looking away. She was already closer to spiraling out of control than I think even she knew. That thread she had been hanging from didn't take much to snap.
Please, Pretty Lights is about much more than sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. It's a story about reinventing yourself. It's about running from your past even knowing it'll eventually catch up with you. It's about living life freely without being chained down by the expectations of others. And most of all, it's about a broken young woman named Via who's only trying to find her way in this world. In the end I think you can agree with me that's what we're all trying to do, and there's a little bit of each of us in these characters and this story.