Step Closer


Author: Tessa McWatt

Published: 2009

Genre: Fiction

About Step Closer: Emily tells the tragic story of Gavin and Marcus while dealing with relationship issues of her own.

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Review of Step Closer

Perhaps the seismic events on that day were purely coincidental, but if they were, would that make everything else that happens on the planet coincidental as well? The hunger for a meal, the preparation of a meal, the eating of a meal? Coincidence goes against our experience of events, doesn't it? It denies our desire and what we feel to be true: that life is not random. There is an order here, awkward and quiet, even now, if you look carefully. And gazed at from beyond, today's events might appear to have a shape as graceful and loud as the shifting of tectonic plates.

I was born, rocks fell. Do I convince you of cause and effect? If I order the past just so—the flickers, moans, bruises—will I assemble my own pardon? Words skid off the tongue, language can be so slippery, but perhaps you will stay the course with me if I begin with Once upon a time...

...from page 1

It took me a while to get into this book. At the beginning, I felt the narrator, Emily, spent too much time hemming and hawing about how to tell the story when I just wanted her to get on with it. But then about a third of the way through I finally connected with the characters, the writing style, and the story, and I enjoyed it from then on.

The book takes place almost entirely in Spain. Emily, a Canadian, is living there with her boyfriend, Sam. The story begins on the day of the 2004 tsunami and after hearing about all of the death and destruction, Emily is moved to continue writing down what happened five years before. That story mainly involves Marcus, Emily's roommate at the time, and Gavin, a businessman with a guilty conscience.

The story switched back and forth between past and present and at some point I became equally as interested in what was happening with Emily and Sam as I was with Marcus and Gavin. In fact, Sam was the character I liked the most, even though his part in the story was relatively small.

A good portion of the book took place on the Camino, an annual pilgrimage to Santiago. From the descriptions of the landscape and the effect on the people, I thought McWatt must have done the walk herself. However, it seems from the acknowledgements that she relied on others for that information. Well done either way.

There was a lot of hurt and pain and many, many misunderstandings in this book. If there was anything to take away from it, I think it was that we never know people as well as we think we do. Not those we love and not even ourselves.

You can browse inside this book on the HarperCollins site.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 21 June 2009 from the hardcover edition provided by HarperCollins Canada.

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More Reviews

Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This, 17 May 2009
“But with such a puzzle of a novel, I do suspect that another read would make things clearer, and that I could even do well with another after that.”
Jonita, The Book Chick, 2 June 2009
“Haunting, compelling, and profound, I will read this book again and again.”
Candace Fertile, Quill & Quire, July 2009
“...a brilliant examination of guilt and culpability.”
Marie, Daisy's Book Journal, 31 August 2009
“Even though I had a little trouble getting into this one, I'd love to read another book by this author.”


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Added 21 June 2009.
Updated 07 September 2013.