BOOK REVIEW: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder
Paperback, $15.00 USD
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli
This is what they don’t tell you about losing someone: It doesn’t happen once. It happens every day, every moment they’re missing from. You lose them a hundred times between waking and sleep, and even sleep is no respite, because you lose them in your dreams, too.
Leah Raeder is this reader’s favourite one-click author. Whatever she is writing, it is added to my to-buy list automatically; sometimes even before it has a cover or description. Raeder’s books aren’t as much a want as they are a need, and the reason is simple: not only does she write beautifully, but her stories are wrought with emotion, plot twists to give the average person severe whiplash, and she has the unique ability of bringing characters to life in such a way that it is breathtaking.
Vada was an artist with a dream and a best friend, Ellis. After a car accident that changes both their lives forever, Vada is no longer an artist, and Ellis and her drift apart until they are nothing but strangers.
Your best friend is your partner, right? The person you’ve lived with going on five years. Shared your life with. Shared everything with. Matching tattoos, an encyclopedia full of inside jokes, a scrapbook stuffed with memories. The person whose heart you know better than your own. Because you’ve listened to it so many nights, that small, fierce tapping against your ear, your jaw. A little bird hurling itself at the bars of its cage.
Slowly, Vada loses sight of the person she used to be — the person she used to be with Ellis. The fearless, wild girl that was brave and headstrong and tougher than nails. Because Vada didn’t only lose her art and Ellis that fateful night. Someone else died in the accident, a boy. As her life beings to spiral, Vada finds herself growing closer to Max, the boy’s father, and the mysterious people who offered her a job in her time of need: Frankie and Dane.
“What’s the catch?”
“Our clients have particular tastes.”
“What she means,” Dane cut in, “is they’re kinky bastards.”
“And not your garden-variety kink,” Frankie said. “We’re talking extremes. Gray areas. Boundary pushing. There’s an EMT on-site at all times.”
The world of camming is nothing like Vada imagined it would be, and soon it begins to get stranger. An anonymous client that goes by the name of “Blue” suddenly wants all of her attention… and he is willing to pay any price to get it.
SoBlue: tonight i just…
SoBlue: needed more.
“So you’ve been watching me. Are you one of my regulars?”
SoBlue: i wouldn’t call it regular.
“What would you call it?”
What I adore about Raeder’s books is how real they feel. It seems that every time she writes a book, she takes a little part of the people she knows and brings them to life so the rest of the world can see, and they always resonate deeply with me. Vada, in particular, out of all of Raeder’s books, was the character that really hit the mark with me. After my car accident in January 2014, I suffered deep nerve and spinal damage that left me half-paralysed for almost six months. With extensive physiotherapy and a lot of headstrong, stubborn will, I can now walk and move the left side of my body without many problems. However, I will carry this damage with me for the rest of my life and I have bad days and good days, just like Vada.
The damage Vada suffered in her accident felt stark and, almost uncomfortably, real. It was wonderful (in the most tragic of ways) to see how Vada dealt with having to learn how to use her body all over again — something we all take for granted, and something we should all be grateful for — and that something so physical, unfortunately, cannot be fixed with the Power Of True Love (as is so often used in books, both YA and NA, these days) and it isn’t something that is easily solved in a matter of months.
Yet, it’s not just the realism her books bring that cultivate my love for her. It’s also the way the romantic stories are weaved, how the plot thickens with each turn of the page, how she keeps you guessing and on your toes until the very end. I found myself entranced by Vada and Ellis’ backstory, how their friendship was so deeply rooted and almost obsessive, how the lines were always so blurred; heartbroken by the very heavy message beneath the story and how real it is in todays day and age; irritated yet excited by Vada’s back-and-forth internalised thoughts that I still related to. This isn’t your average New Adult story. It’s a story about mistakes, forgiveness, learning to move on with a life that was taken from you and splintered.
And like always, the book doesn’t just revolve around Vada. It’s also about Ellis, Max, and the boy who died on that fateful night. It’s about hundreds of people every day — people we see on the street — who are all dealing with demons they’d rather be rid of. And in some ways, it’s also about us, the readers, the people who pick these books because some part of us tells us we just have to: it’s about looking inside ourselves and realising that we really can do this. No matter our darkest days and coldest hours, we can do it. Together. Alone. We can do it.
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About the Author: 21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.