Book review: Look at Me by Jennifer Egan
January 14, 2015 10 Comments
From the publishers: “Reconstructive facial surgery after a car crash so alters Manhattan model Charlotte that, within the fashion world, where one’s look is oneself, she is unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte engages in an Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. As her story eerily converges with that of a plain, unhappy teenager – another Charlotte – it raises tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary Western culture.”
Look at Me: What I thought
This novel is all about identity: a model who had a face reconstruction after an accident, a man who takes a completely new identity after moving to the US, a school girl who wants to change her life, a man who was very popular in his youth but is now suffering with psychological issues.
The story is seen from the viewpoints of all these people, but I really only enjoyed the story about the model. When your job is all about your face, what happens when your face is different from what it was? It was interesting to follow Charlotte around trying to find work. Eventually, she signs a contract giving away her whole identity (in a sense), in a unique on-line venture.
The rest of the characters seemed less important, somehow. They all had a certain connection with Charlotte and I eagerly waited for these people to meet up (again) with her. And waited.
The man with the new identity was indeed quite a different man at the beginning of the story than at the end of it (which is really his story from before the book starts). Too much so. I didn’t see the connection very well. The man at the end has a certain purpose, but this did not show at all (to me, at least) in the earlier parts about this man. What was he doing, just living a quiet life? Or had he done already what he had been wanting to do? I don’t think he did. His part in the book was the weakest and least interesting, while it could have been quite impactful.
I loved all the identity-connected issues but didn’t enjoy all of this novel, unfortunately. A novel just about Charlotte would have been fine (and a little thinner, too).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (okay to good)
Number of pages: 416
First published: 2001
I got this: bought it in a book shop
Genre: Contemporary fiction