book review, fiction

In This Way I Was Saved by Brian DeLeeuw

After watching the excellent film, Daniel Isn’t Real, I decided to delve deeper into the world by reading the novel that inspired the movie.

Told from the perspective of Daniel, an ‘imaginary friend’, In This Way I Was Saved tells the story of Luke; his manipulative, controlling mother who wears the family eccentricities and mental illness as a badge of honor; his distant father who couldn’t free himself fast enough from his disordered wife and son to start a ‘normal’ family; and Luke’s efforts to establish his own identity as the novel follows him from age six to his early twenties.

Daniel is always at Luke’s side, is his first friend and stands in for Luke’s hidden desires. The thoughts too dangerous or shameful for him to admit to, such as wanting to be free of his mother, his attraction to his step sister, or to find some semblance of autonomy as his own man.

For most of the book Daniel is an incorporeal entity who abhors the idea of eating food, and while I understand the idea of the disassociated character, it does unfortunately mean that the reader is distant from Luke and his troubles almost to the point of not caring.

I admire what the author was aiming for in this book, but it didn’t achieve its aim as far as I’m concerned. I wasn’t able to establish an emotional connection with either Daniel or Luke, so his struggles appeared academic and lacked the depth I sought.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed the book better if I hadn’t seen the far superior film first. While In This Way I Was Saved spawned Daniel Isn’t Real, the film is a very different beast, with themes and imagery that really spoke to me.

I recommend skipping the novel and watching the film instead.

I award In This Way I Was Saved

In This Way I Was Saved is available for $4.82 ebook and $19.95 print book on Amazon.

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