I’m always careful who I read after authors who write exceptionally well, as I don’t want to treat the one following unfairly. Not everyone can come after Caren J. Werlinger and look good too. I don’t know why I thought Jesse J. Thoma could withstand the challenge since I’ve only ever read one of her books, before I started reviewing.
Maybe because that book, Seneca Falls, made an impression. Since I tend to forget a lot, that in itself is telling.
Guess what? It was the best choice.
When Kit and Thea meet for the first time, Kit is in withdrawal and Thea thinks she’s about to OD on the steps to the library. A few months later, a Narcotics Anonymous meeting brings them back together in that same place. Kit is clean and trying to move on, struggling with the idea that people will always see her as a heroin addict. As for Thea, she’s doing her best to make the library a safe place, for everyone. The connection between them is undeniable but both worry their past will stand in the way of a future together.
Serenity is the perfect example of opposites attract: “Kit screamed excitement, unpredictability, and chaos. Thea craved stability, predictability, and routine”, writes Thoma. Despite all their differences, their journeys are similar, in that they’re both beating the odds and fighting back, even if their first instinct is to protect themselves against the world outside and the feelings it carries along.
The best thing about this novel is the characters. Both Kit and Thea feel very real, but the same can be said about every supporting character, be it Kit’s cousin Josh, Thea’s friends and colleagues, Kit’s sponsor, the drug dealers or Frankie, Thea’s teenage not-so-secret admirer. Kit’s attitude and actions are at times annoying and frustrating but they fit with the character and where she’s coming from. The way drugs and addiction are handled is outstanding, never in a patronizing way but never romanticizing drug use either.
I’m a sucker for stories of redemption and for characters who push their limits, prove themselves to be more than others seem to think. Serenity is all that, and well-written too.