If You Could See Me Now
by Cecelia Ahern
After enjoying reading (okay, listening to) Cecelia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow a few months ago, I decided to pick up another audio book version of one of her novels: If You Could See Me Now. Lighthearted chick lit with a bit of a twist, this book seemed to match her other work. While I enjoyed the book, and especially the audio version of it (I love the Irish accents), I can’t really think of why. The ending was disappointing, questions were left unanswered, and yet… it was still a cute, pleasant story.
Elizabeth is an interior designer living in a small Irish town, taking care of her family as she’s done her whole life. Her mother, an alcoholic drifter, left her family so often in her childhood, Elizabeth learned to pick up the pieces herself, taking care of her heartbroken father and raising her little sister, Saoirse (I seriously just Googled that; how do you think it would be pronounced? In the audiobook, it’s said as “Sure-sha” – who would have thought?). As with many young girls forced to grow up too early, Elizabeth is a serious sort of woman: quiet, terse, and a strict follower of the rules. Saoirse, meanwhile, has depended on Elizabeth to take care of her throughout her whole life, and as a result, does not appreciate her older sister’s kindness and becomes an alcoholic and drifter just like her mother, leaving her young son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. Elizabeth, never really having a childhood of her own, does not allow Luke a fun-loving childhood, either, and forces him to adhere to the same strict rules in her household that she has set for herself. When an imaginary friend called “Ivan” enters Luke’s life, Elizabeth thinks that her strict parenting style just needs to be amped up a bit to get rid of him, but little does she know, Ivan is real, and he’ll soon be making an appearance in her life, too.
This book was lighthearted and fun. It is actually told from two perspectives, Ivan’s and Elizabeth’s, which gave an interesting twist to the story. When Ivan becomes visible to Elizabeth after a few days of only being able to communicate with Luke, he makes it his mission to give her the childhood she never had. Over the course of the book, the two grow more and more fond of each other, and even call it love, but how can they stay together with the constraints of the Invisible Friends lifestyle: never aging, never being seen by anyone else, and never having control of who they are sent to help next?
Altogether, it was an interesting conundrum, and I really had hoped to learn more of the inner mechanics of the Invisible Friends business. How do they get started? How do they get from their home base of “Ekam Eveileb” to our world? What other powers do they possess? Where do they get their powers from? These questions were never answered, which disappointed me, as did the kind of ‘eh’ ending. I still felt content after reading the book, but there were some questions that kept nagging me long after the CDs were done.
Interestingly, this book was actually supposed to be turned into a Disney movie starring Hugh Jackman. It was in “pre-production” for a long while, then Jackman allegedly bailed, and the whole movie page on IMDB has since been deleted, so there is little hope for the movie’s future. It’s still interesting to note. Personally, “Brave” looks so good, I’d be happy if that were the only Irish movie Disney released this decade.