Friday, June 02, 2006

Stuck in a Tower

The joy of feminism and female empowerment is that females can be whoever they want to be. Which means if you choose to be a wimpy, buffeted by the wind kind of girl - that is your right. However, if I am going to read about your fictional self - you (or perhaps more correctly your author) need own up to it.

I am reading Andrea Kane's I'll Be Watching You. And Taylor - our "heroine" - waivers back and forth enough to suggest one of two things. Either she is not as strong as Ms. Kane is trying to make me believe she is. Or Ms. Kane can't have her be strong, because that would interfere with the plot.

Now I have read others of Ms. Kane's contemporary romantic suspense, and enjoyed them. They tend not to be brilliantly plotted mysteries but this is the first one where by page 60 I was tired of the lead. A synopsis: Taylor, teen psychologist who works at an exclusive New York high school and also has a teen talk show, shared an apartment with her actress cousin. Her cousin dated an idiot, who one day, when the cousin wasn't home, assaulted Taylor. The cousin buzzed from downstairs, thereby interrupting the assault before it developed into rape. Dude left her unconscious and handcuffed to the bed. That same night the boat cousin and idiot were on blew up. Dun, dun, dun, dun! But wait, he has a twin.

I recognize that to be a therapist or guidance counselor or radio star, one doesn't have to be any good at running their own life. She apparently has no friends. She's an only child and doesn't talk to her parents. What do we have here? We have a woman in dire need of rescue! It's the chick-in-the-tower story. I'm so lost. I'm so alone. Whatever will I do?

Now, Taylor does start therapy herself and she does decide to move out of the apartment where she was assaulted (and apparently has enough money that she has not had to get a roommate to replace the dead cousin). But she's still lonely. And afraid. Especially when she starts getting emails, and senses she's being followed, and gets weird phone calls. But of course the police brush her off (in their defense she only called them about the emails, and they assumed they had been pre-set to be sent by dead idiot). So, what will she do?

Oh, hey - it turns out there is a sexy, masculine (ugh), complex (UGH), lawyer who happens to work with the twin idiots so he crosses paths with her due to some fraudulent investment dead idiot had set up with dead cousin. And so he offers to give her self defense lessons. Which she agrees to in exchange for stories of his big, warm, happy family. (Any guesses what will happen?)

And so it's wonderful when he starts showing up everywhere. And makes plans for them without asking her. (Which is a whole other rant, I know). In fact, she thanks him for not having sex with her after she falls asleep. Thanks him! And if this was part of the pathology of her having been assaulted, that would be one thing. But no - this is to show me that he's such a great guy and she's so lucky to have him. Imagine, a guy who waits until you're awake to have sex with you. What a catch!

And she's like this with everything. She confronts parents of a student who is making inappropriate sexual advances and tells them they need to have a talk with their son. But when his behavior continues, does she talk to them again? No - she avoids the student! When twin idiot shows up at the school on a trumped up reason and asks her out, does she just say, "No thanks" and move on. No, she stays to justify her decision. (Remember - she's a psychologist). And look, I'm not trying to say she's bringing this stalking on herself. Or that these various people would suddenly get it if she just took the right approach.

(I skimmed and finally made it to the end - and while it wasn't all totally predictable - it still was bad. And actually it was predictable, she just merged two over-used plots.)

So - everyone can be whatever and whoever they want to be - including the chick in the tower. But don't try to tell me that there is complexity and strength to sitting there and hoping things get better. But then, at the end (which I won't spoil) she suddenly has all this strength. But it's not her strength - no - it's because Mr. Complex Lawyer taught it to her.