Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: Iodine by Haven Kimmel

Iodine: A Novel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Iodine is an excellent book. It delves into the muddled psyche of the main character, Trace (known by others as Ianthe) who is a brilliant college student hiding a secret. She is known to others to as Ianthe but her birth name is Trace Pennington, a girl who is hiding from the past and has created a new identity. She lives in an abandoned house with her dog, Weeds. She sustains herself with scholarship money and basically living like a homeless person. She has severed all ties with her family. She only keeps in tough with her best childhood friend, Candy, who is apparently facing problems of her own.

Trace is not like everyone else. It is quickly evident that although Trace is brilliant, she is experiencing some sort of psychosis. Her break from reality is first noticeable through her dream journal which details the occurrences of her childhood, however reliable they may be. Her dream journal is a window to her psyche, a sort of navigation to her thoughts and beliefs, which are questioned at every step.

Trace/Ianthe finds love with her college professor, an older man. Through this interaction, and that of her best friend, the reality of Trace's life become a bit clearer; although, never quite certain. We never quite know what is true or not in this book. But, that is not the point of this story. Yes, by the end we are not sure about the actual events. We do not know what actually transpired; we have been exploring the mind of a person experiencing a psychotic break from reality and what we though had happened may have not. But, we do not need to know what really happened (and we never will), the idea of the book is the exploration into the mind of the main character. Her train of thought, although chaotic, is quite interesting and brilliant.

The author explores the teachings of different psychologists, such as Jung, to interpret some of thoughts going to Trace's mind. The use of psychology and the different theories, although interesting, is merely an element for the main character, Ianthe/Trace, to explain to herself the motivations and actions of others but not her own situations. Her situation is mostly explained as an exercise in free form, an exercise in literature. This is merely a book told in a stream of through manner and it is quite interesting. 

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