Thaw by Fiona Robyn

16 Feb


“I feel strange after writing today. Like I have a blackbird in my stomach.”

What would you do if you decided to die?

You may try to leave your mark on the world in some way. You may give away all your earthly belongings. Or you may keep a journal to leave as your suicide note.

Ruth is turning thirty three years old. She doesn’t know if she wants to live anymore or whether or not she wants to turn thirty three. So she decides to keep a journal, a diary, documenting each day as she gets closer to the date she has chosen to end her life.

She has given herself three months. Three months to write every day so that she will leave behind a detailed suicide note, showing that the taking of her life was no easy decision.  In this way she hopes to provide some measure of comfort to her family that will remain behind and to leave behind her story.

As Ruth begins to write, we are pulled into a story that begins to unfold like a rose, revealing a petal at a time. And much like a rose that unthaws after a cold night and unfurls itself, grows and changes, so does Ruth.

Knowing that the end of her life is coming soon, she begins to throw caution to the wind and do things she never would have done normally. This includes sitting to have her portrait painted, trying to maintain relationships instead of shutting people out and reliving memories that she would prefer stay buried.

As Ruth gets closer and closer to the date she has chosen to die, she begins to thaw and change and become someone different than she was. But the question remains: does she want to live? And how many ways are there to die?

Thaw is the third novel from accomplished author Fiona Robyn and is one of the best books I have ever read. That doesn’t do the book justice; there are no words or adjectives to accurately praise this book. It is beautiful beyond words.

Part of the novels power lies in the strength of Robyn’s writing. Ruth’s voice is so pure, so real, that you feel as if you know her after only a few pages. She could be your sister, your close friend, your aunt. Ruth is a real, living, breathing woman who’s hurts are ones we recognize and empathize with right away.

Most authors spend years trying to achieve the balance and poise that Robyn has achieved and she does it with beauty, grace and a deft hand. Ruth is so real that she seems to live beyond the printed page. Her voice is so real, so tangible, that she stays with you long after the last page of Thaw has been turned.

What Robyn has really given us is an intimate study of human nature; of what drives a person to make the choices they do, regardless of the consequences. Robyn has given us hope and despair, joy and sadness, true emotions bottled up and stored within the pages of her novel.

I went through a whole gambit of emotion while reading Thaw. I laughed, cried, smiled, felt fear, joy, sadness. It takes a very talented author to evoke emotion in a reader, emotion that is true and pure. Thankfully, Robyn has that talent and more.

I have been thinking of Ruth since finishing Thaw and while there is sadness there, there is joy too. Joy that Robyn has given us the gift of Ruth, one of the most incredibly real literary characters to come along in years.


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