- Book: Tell Me Everything
- Location: Brighton, Joshua Tree, Los Angeles
- Author: Laura Kay
As a trained therapist, I am always interested in picking up novels that feature a therapist at their heart. The story opens promisingly, with Natasha running her own sessions and a class, that demonstrates the author’s knowledge and insight of the therapeutic process. Natasha (also Natty/Nat), however, cannot transpose the therapeutic principles she uses with her clients into her own life. She lives with a a former lover, Georgia (that’s muddled boundaries for a start) and this status quo has prevailed for a couple of years. Now Georgia has found Zara, and so it is time for Natasha to move on and leave their shared premises.
Natasha is portrayed as a professional who has very good boundaries, only she can’t make a good ending (one of the cornerstones of therapy), even though she herself is embarking on a new relationship with someone who attended one of her classes (Nooooo!). It all feels a bit weird and wonderful, especially as her former partner (Georgia) is keen to take her friendship group – which includes Natasha – on a long-planned birthday bash to California. Are you keeping up? Natasha’s life is a bit of a jumbled nightmare.
It transpires that Natasha (who also has a twin confusingly called Natalie) has spent a lifetime dealing with the loss of her father, who walked out on their mother to be with Carl. Carl is no longer on the scene but dad is now coincidentally living in California and perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to catch up with him after many years of no contact. Natasha’s mother tries to force her hand to this end. So father and daughter do eventually meet up over an ice cream at Salt and Straw, Venice Beach. The fall-out from his abandonment of the family and lack of subsequent contact thereafter never gets a mention (unlikely that the ripple effect from his actions just melted away). And it was at this point that the storyline for me really went off the boil. There are simplistic extrapolations that hover around the margins of the emotions, but the focus is more on the friendship group and relationships that come and go. It’s all too pat.
I think the author has tried very hard to highlight the messiness of friendships and relationships and her aim has been to reflect this in the trajectory of the narrative. This succeeds very well but overall it did leave me wondering where it was all going, it felt like a right meander through this woman’s life. When it got to the ending it was a bit too simple. The novel bowls along nicely but ultimately the storyline wasn’t really one for me.
Settings – Brighton, Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Joshua Tree – were more mentions than a defined backdrop.