Kinds of Seeing
by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Author of FORGED IN GRACE
It occurred to me quite by accident one day that my book is as much about forms of seeing/not seeing as it is about other themes like isolation and healing.
The protagonist of my novel, Grace, spent the first half of her life flying under the radar, feeling “plain;” and the second half, after her terrible burn accident, being unwittingly in the spotlight due to her disfigurements. Until she meets a character named Gus, the “tattooed man” who is even stranger to look at than she is, and who photographs her, Grace has never willingly called attention to herself before. Gus gives her a sense of being witnessed, seen and accepted, which she will need to draw on if she is to be in a relationship with the man she loves.
When people ask me which of my two main characters I most identify with, I usually think of Grace first, though I’ve never experienced the kind of agony that she has, nor the disfigurements. What I do relate to is her sense of shame and hiding. It’s such a universally human experience to feel invisible, unseen, or ugly. It was important to me throughout this book to explore the ways we make ourselves smaller, and believe falsely that we are not enough because of how we look on the outside.
And I have the best avenue to explore this in her best friend Marly, who has always been effortlessly, genetically beautiful—drawing attention whether she likes it or not. But important people in Marly’s life do not see, and deny seeing, terrible things that have happened to her. Marly understands the power of the presentation, the façade, the image, and lives believing that what you show the world is what you are.
And then there’s the deeper kind of seeing: when someone sees you as flawed and messy but still loves you; when someone sees past the surface, deep into the heart of you. Both of my characters have deep wounds, and their need to be seen is what brings them back together again after a thirteen year hiatus. And yet, they have to explore what they want from each other, because trying to pick up where they left off at age 15 is a deadly proposition.
It’s my hope that my novel can open up a dialogue about what it means about these different kinds of seeing, of being accepted and loved, and how beauty can be a shallow and even dangerous tool for relating to others.
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Genre – Psychological Suspense
Rating – R
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