“The Point of Me” is definitely one of those reads you have to be in the right mood for given it’s rather heavy subject matter. The story follows James, a young teenager who is diagnosed with cancer. What follows is in part a tale of how such a devastating diagnosis affects him and his family, and is in part a purple-prose spirit journey that delves into a metaphysical fantasy realm, that could, theoretically, be interpreted as a sick young man’s fevered dreams while the various cancer treatments course through his veins. Davidson pens an incredibly beautiful story, one that covers a devastating topic, while trying to offer some hope to both her characters, and those who may be dealing with what James and his family are experiencing. But for as important of a topic as this is, it is a pretty slow read.
Where Davidson really shines is in how powerfully she is able to convey to the reader the trauma such a disease has on a family, especially when cancer presents itself in a child. We are given glimpses of how each of James’ family members tries to cope, how they want to appear strong for James, and we are shown how James feels about the process. His guilt, denial, and yearning for more time and questions about what the point of his life was if all he brings is his family is pain. These are such real and heartbreaking questions that I wish the novel had focused more on the family dynamic, or just solely on that and how the family tries to hold each other together. But, at about the 12% mark, the reader is introduced to Marcham, a magical being that functions as a spirit guide to James. From that point on, the book mostly focuses on the more fantastic elements: James being shown why his parents are the way they are, what it means to love and be alive, slowly building towards acceptance, all of which takes place in an alternate plane of existence. These parts are still beautifully written, but it’s also where the story dragged the most for me personally.
We, as the reader, spend so much of the novel in James fantasy world, which appears to be his personal version of paradise, with different spirits showing him just what “the point of him” is, that James doesn’t need to do much in ways of dialogue, of connecting or trying to converse with his family. He is shown the path, and it’s up to him to walk it. While sweet, it often meandered away from what I felt most invested in: James interactions with his suffering family and repairing their relationship while they were all able. I found it hard to really get into the flow of those parts, to focus on the lovely prose and just enjoy Davidson’s lyrical style of writing, because I was constantly waiting for something new, exciting, or some kind of dialogue to occur. Which is unfortunate, because Davidson does have a great talent, and penchant, for literary writing and is courageous enough to tackle difficult subjects in creative ways.
Ultimately, I found myself more often forcing myself to sit down and read this book than I would have liked. There were such large gaps between the fantasy elements and the reality that I often lost track of the timeline of things and wondered why we were in, for example, the mother’s perspective when James hadn’t done anything to warrant the POV switch. And, as often the different family members all shared the same literary voice and observations, it occasionally made it difficult to distinguish who we were seeing the world from. This book was slow, and therefore difficult, for me to get through with not enough of the family aspect compared to the fantasy-spirit journey, I’m giving it 3 stars. I will say, however, if you love purple-prose and want to enjoy just some really beautiful writing, I’d rate this book higher and encourage you to give it a read! And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review
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