“The Thinking Log” by R. Rachel Gauna is a bit of a departure from my usual preferred reading selections. It is a self-published novel by an Amarillo author and is about a very tumultuous and perplexing relationship between two people who have been a part of each other’s lives for years. I had to put aside some preconceptions and prejudices that usually involve self-published novels, however I had met the author since she sets up a kiosk at the local mall and enjoyed talking to her. I went into reading this thing with some trepidation because you know, “what if it’s no good?”. I was rather relieved to find that this lady can write and started caring about the characters and the outcome of the story more than just being too compulsive to not leave a book unfinished. If only that compulsion manifested in my own writing aspirations!
The story begins from the perspective of Liberty Rose Anderson as she relates the rather complicated and heart-rending path her love for Adam leads her down. This seems to be about how complicated people are even when their actions are quite loathsome. It would be easy to dismiss the complexities of human interactions and affections and judge Libby for getting roped back into what turns out to be a pretty toxic situation rather harshly. however I have been known of several situations like this and have been involved first hand in some. To be fair, nothing with quite so much far-reaching tragic consequences as depicted in this novel.
Anyway, there times where the story can fool one into thinking it’s fairly predictable. Although some of the roads are not unknown in literary fiction, Gauna does manage to throw some emotional gut punches that kept me hooked.
Not all of it is told in a very linear fashion. There are some tricky flashback scenes where I did have to backtrack a bit to get my bearings. There were some side characters that I found interesting enough to wish for a bit more development while a few others I thought were given a little too much attention.
As despicable as Adam’s actions could get, I couldn’t bring myself to hate him entirely, which I think is a goal the author wanted to achieve. I also think I have mishandled personal and romantic situations bad enough for me to somewhat sympathize. Not wholly sympathize, but somewhat. Once again, it brings home the lesson that people are complicated. It is possible to actually love someone and somehow keep inexplicably hurting them, even more than just physical abuse. Adam comes off as a likeable guy, but he’s selfish and careless.
Although it is easy to see Libby as sort of the victim of Adam’s reckless approach to relationships and love, she still has her flaws in spite of the descriptions of her generous and forgiving nature. Even sweet, naïve, reliable Libby has some shades of grey in her as well, which also emphasizes makes her more relatable for the reader.
This isn’t something that leaves you with a lot of warmth and happiness by the end, however it doesn’t leave one entirely in despair either. As mentioned before, it highlights the complications of people and their efforts to connect with each other, to build lives together, and to forgive each other.
If anyone who lives in Amarillo, or will be in Amarillo, up to the end of this year R. Rachel Gauna will be standing post at her kiosk at Westgate Mall with quite a few books left to sell. I would recommend saying hello to her and checking out her first book. I also think it’s a great opportunity to support local creative talent and try out something new. Meeting Gauna and reading her first piece is a great way to do that.
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak will be the next step on my journey of literary diversions.