Author: Kathleen Tessaro
1st edition: 2005
Company: Harper Collins Publishers
The book takes place in the eighties and nineties, mostly in London. But it also takes place in New York and Eden (Ohio). Evie mentions these cities and dates quite a couple of times, so it is clear the story occurs in London, New York and Eden in those centuries.
Evie is an ordinary girl, not rich or poor, just normal. But in the middle and end of the story she is a bit poor. Especially in the middle, when she is with Jake who neither is successful. So the story also occurs in the lower class, but also a few times in the upper class. For example, when Evie goes to some expensive hotels or when she meets the Robbies mother, who is very rich.
These cities could also be replaced by other big cities. There are no things which could not happen in Paris or Amsterdam.
The outside looks very attractive and typical for ‘chicklit’. I liked the picture on the outside; a girl in a beautiful dress. And after I read the back of the book I definitely liked the story. The story was a bit cliche, but also did not sound very boring, so I chose this book.
The eighteen years old Evie Garlick dreams of being an actress. So she leaves her hometown of Eden (Ohio) and flies to London, to study drama. She lives in a house, together with two fellow students, Imogene and Robbie.
Everything goes well until she meets Jake, a musician who wants to be famous with his band. Even when she is accepted to Julliard, a drama school which she always wanted to go to. She does not go Julliard, but stays with Jake. Together they try to build up a future, but they fail. Their marriage does not make any sense. Jake is too busy with making his band successful and with dealing drugs to earn money. Although he promises Evie many times he will not do it again, he keeps on dealing. One day, Evie has had it with him, the drugs and the money they do not have. So she breaks up. She does not see him for a very long time.
She concentrates on her acting career, and it goes well. She has some boyfriend, and she meets Jake one time. Just when her life is almost stable, it turns out she is pregnant. That’s when her life really changes and she decides to leave the acting bussiness and become a drama teacher. Just as a way to earn money.
- Evie Garlick : In the beginning eighteen years old, in the end a mother in her thirties. Her nickname is Raven and her artist name is Eve Albery. Most of the time, her life is a mess. She wants to be an actress, just like so many others, but in the end becomes a drama teacher. She is a bit shy, naive, but also independent. Evie is a round character, as she is the main character and the story describes her feelings and thoughts and the way she changes.
- Robbie : The nickname of Alice, a fellow drama student of Evie. Robbie is from New York and she likes to party and having a good time. She doesn’t care about a serious career or life. Her mother is very rich, so she always has enough money. She dies very young, on a cold night when she is going to buy a diet coke. It is a car accident, but according to Robbie she could have avoided the car and she thinks it was meant to be, that she died at that moment. Robbie is also a round character, she has a very big role in this story.
- Alex : Evie’s son. In the story he is mostly eight/nine years old. He does not appear in the story as a little child, just as a eight-/nine-years old child. He is between a flat and a round character, the story tells some things about him but he does not really develop or something.
- Jake : He is a musician and wants to be famous with his band, which he calls after Evie; Raven. He falls in love with Evie, but because of his failing careers (as a musician and drugsdealer) it doesn’t work out between them. He is the Jakes father. Later, he becomes clean and he is still in love with Evie, but Evie does not want him anymore. Jake is a round character, the story tells a lot about him.
- Piotr : He is a housemate of Evie. He is a great musician, but he ever just walked away when he was in a competition and that was the end of his career. First, he is not very open, but in the end he falls in love with Evie and you discover a whole new side to him. Together with Evie and Alex he moves to New York, where he will be a successful musician again. He is also a round character, because he develops and the story does tell many things about him.
In this story, Evie looks back at her life, so the point of view is ‘I’, logically. It’s essential for this story because if someone else, for example Robbie, had written this diary, you wouldn’t have known many essential and entertaining things. On the other hand, it would be fun to read the same story starting from the mind and thoughts of Robbie. But unfortunately, that book does not exist.
The story actually is one big flashback, because Evie looks back at her life. There are no chapters, but there are some parts in this book:
- Part One: February 1986
- Part Two: 21 June 1991
- Part Three: 21 Juni 1996
- Part Four: February 1997
- February, a year later
Besides, there are two story lines. One is before Robbie dies and the other one takes place after Robbie’s dead, when Evie is already a mother. So the first line starts at the beginning and the other line starts almost at the end. And slowly the grow to the same point. After that point the story goes further to the real end, also revealing some details you did not know yet. Like who the father is of Alex, in the whole story that is a question mark, just in the end the story reveals it is Jake.
Innocence is about Evie. She is so innocent, in the beginning. And she does not care about it. But then she starts smoking, going out, drinking. She dumps her loyal boyfriend for a upcoming rockstar. Suddenly, she is not so innocent any more. So the title is about Evie. I think the title is okay, but not perfect. I would have named the book ‘Raven’ I think. Raven also stands for the ‘new’ Evie, who is not innocent anymore. Raven also has a lot to do with Jake and Robbie, two important characters. Raven would have made a lot more sense, and would have been more specific, than just ‘Innocence’.
The main themes are love, friendship and following your dreams. It is about making choices between love and your career. And also about new friends, losing friends and old friendships. Very cliche themes actually, while they are easy to write about and recognisable to everyone.
It was a bit confusing in the beginning, because of the two story lines. But when I figured that out, it was easy to read and understand. I think it was not really easy to write the story in this way, but it was refreshing and new. There are many little details who will only be revealed in the end, and which makes you curious, makes you want to finish the story. So actually, the story is written well and it is a nice book. Not very special or amazing, but just nice.
“If only we could choose which memories we keep and which ones we discard for ever. But instead, the mind clings to events that baffle; watching them, like a movie, over and over, but without the power to choose a different path.” (page 340)
Just because it is so true.
“(And that’s the final thing you should know about Robbie.) Nothing was ever entirely what it seemed.” (page 439)
This summarizes the whole story. Nothing was what it looked like in the first place.