Monday, August 31, 2009

Step Closer by Tessa McWatt

In Step Closer, Emily is compelled to write about a horrific event that happened to her and her two friends on the Santiago de Compostela trail in Spain. She's become obsessed with telling the story, working through the details of what happened and determining her role in it. All of this comes at the expense of her current relationship with Sam, who becomes more distant as Emily continues to write. This story within a story examines guilt, accusations, acceptance and tragedy and asks how well do we really know other people.

I found myself very easily distracted while reading this book at first. It took be three or four tries to get through the first 30 pages or so. I just couldn't figure out what was going on. However, once I got that far into the book, it started to make sense and I started really enjoying it. Even with that, I found that I really had to focus to keep track of the shifts in the story from Gavin's childhood, to what happened on the trail, to what was happening between Emily and Sam.

McWatt's ability to shift so easily and quickly between stories was splendid, a little confusing at times, but still splendid. Just when I got into Emily's story, McWatt would change gears and head into a section about Gavin or Marcus, but not before foreshadowing what was to come with a little piece of the puzzle. All of this really added to the suspense of the book. I was on the edge of my seat until the very last page. I found myself thinking about the book long after I finished the last page.

McWatt's writing is just beautiful. One of my favourite quotes comes quite early in the book. From page 18:
April stirs people, with its particular tilt of the earth, the ribbon-like quality of light. It brings the season of thaw, of rebirth, of pilgrimage.

Sam's work in virology inspired Emily to study up on his work. The information in the book about bacteria and viruses was fascinating. I loved how the author eventually ties it all in with the story that Emily is writing. Equally fascinating was the scenes leading up to the running of the bulls in Pamplona. I had no idea that the bulls were treated so poorly. Some traditions just are not worth repeating.

Even though I had a little trouble getting into this one, I'd love to read another book by this author.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Edwards Magazine Bookclub and HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

This review is also available on Edwards Magazine Book Club website.

For more information about this book or to Browse Inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.


  1. I agree with you- this one started off slow for me, but I ended up finding the intricacies of the plot and how they all tied together fascinating!

    Hey, have you signed up for your free copy of "The Girls" yet? I thought that this may be something that you enjoy:

  2. Yes, the way she tied all of the bits altogether made me want to read more of her work.

    Thanks for the tip about the free book offer. It sounds familiar. I *think* I signed up for it a few weeks ago. I went to check just now, but the offer is closed. I guess I'll have to wait and see if it turns up.

  3. Hi, I've given your blog an award. Stop by when you get a chance to pick it up.

    Have a great week and happy reading.

  4. This book sounds interesting. I enjoyed the quote.


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