I present for your consideration...
(Lowering voice to sound like Rod Serling)
Seriously, I’m about as picky a fic reader as you’ll ever find. I’ll accept the occasional typos – even publishing houses make corrections into the 10th printing. At Macmillan, we were still correcting typos in Gone With the Wind. Primarily, I want my fics to be well-written, with a tight plot and consistent characterization. I want it to engage me, make me happy or make me sad, but at the very least, make me feel.
What I never expected was This Is Not My Life by Isakassees.
Rec’d to me by a friend, I pulled it up at work and expected to skim. That was the concept. The reality was, I sat in front of my computer, not caring who expected what from me, and read until I hit the last posted chapter – and cried for more.
Now I have a deal with the aforementioned friend. If a new chapter posts she sends it to me, immediately, without delay, and once again, all work will stop until I’ve savored it.
How to describe this story, yet do it justice? I’ll start off by saying that I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that this fic can be an original novel, or a film, or both. If it was made into a movie, I’d attend the premier.
Second, the basics: AH, Bella and Edward, a bit OOC, but in a wonderful way. Bella is a normal woman. A successful author of novels geared towards women, she’s happy, she’s healthy, she’s well-adjusted, and she’s joyfully living on her own, working out of her Seattle apartment. I know, drinks are available to those in shock.
Edward is, of course, a doctor – and a relatively young doctor working through his residency. He’s also a single father (I know, not unique) with a little daughter so charming, and so much a child, that she may be one of the best fic children I’ve ever read. I mean that. Don’t let “there’s a kid” put you off. I'm an expert - I raised two of them. She’s a real child – that’s the unique part. Edward is a single parent, devoting his life to raising this child, with the usual suspects around to help. And lo and behold, he’s also well-adjusted. I’ll call for another round. So let’s start our story.
Bella puts down her laptop, realizes she has no food in the house, and runs to the supermarket. Cut to Edward, picking up his daughter and heading to the supermarket. So far, so good. There is a brief meeting between Bella and Edward, a humorous incident between Bella and the child and a pile of fallen apples. Nothing more is said beyond momentary eye contact between our favorite lovers, coupled with a sparkof attraction... when all hell breaks loose.
I flew back towards Little Thing, and he pointed the gun to the ceiling and fired a warning shot freezing me in place. Little Thing screamed, and I wanted to go to her but I was afraid to provoke him. Behind me, I heard movement, but then the gunman's voice rang out.
"Stay right fucking there or die motherfucker."
I assumed Little Thing's dad must have tried to help her, but I could have heard a pin drop after he spoke. I was scared shitless at his cold calm tone. I didn't doubt his words for a second. He returned his gaze down at us then.
"Vicki, what are you doing at the store? You know you're not supposed to leave the house without me."
What. The. Fuck.
Yes, it's James, the villain we love to hate, and rarely has there been written a James so perfectly and humanly unbalanced. He has Bella, and Edward’s daughter, believing them to be his missing family. And so, the story begins.
And you will not be able to stop reading it. Guaranteed.
Why? Because these are real people, with real reactions. Real Amber Alerts. Real, and logical, suspicions that Bella is an accomplice until they figure out who she is. Real police, real investigations - Charlie the Forks Police Chief as both a real cop and a real father torn apart. In fact, I’ll go so far to say this is the absolute, bar none, best Charlie I’ve ever read.
A delightfully quirky Renee, but not so quirky that I haven’t met women like her. All of it progressing the way something like this would – never losing sight that, although Edward may come from a rich family, this Bella is an author with the same level of fame as Stephenie Meyer – and the press is hounding them.
The chapters switch back and forth between Bella and the child, and what they’re going through, and Edward and Bella’s family, and what they’re going through – both heartbreaking, both grounded in reality. All in pain, all in the dark, everyone reacting the way real people would.
The pacing is extraordinary, and the research to pull this off is some of the best I’ve ever seen. And that includes some astonishingly good medical scenes. In the midst of all this, we have Charlie and Edward, two strangers, whose daughters are missing, bonding over their anguish and their fears. The age of the fathers means nothing, no more than the age of the kidnapped daughters. They are two men trying to take strength from each other, where almost no strength can be found.
Bella – brilliant, resourceful, brave – battling to protect the child from both physical and mental trauma, with no regard for her own safety other than making sure that, no matter what, no matter what condition she’s in, she’ll still be able to protect the child.
While underneath it all, you’re still reminded that somewhere, somehow, this is still a love story. Edward learns about Bella, who she is, what kind of person she is, through her father, her friends, by reading her novels. Bella learns what kind of person Edward is through his daughter - this tiny thing trying to remain strong through adversity, telling Bella stories about her family, about her father – her fierce pride in daddy, her unwavering love for him.
I can’t tell you more without giving it all away, but I can tell you it’s not just the kidnapping, but it’s how these normal and well-adjusted people not only get through this horror, but learn to live with what the experience has done to them. It’s a story rooted in strength, and in love, and it never ceases to draw me in, make me feel for them – even make me laugh with them, It’s still a WIP, and I have no clue where she’ll take this, but I know I won’t be disappointed.
In closing, if there is anything I can say to convince you to read this wonderful story, it's this. I wish I could sit down to dinner and a few drinks with these characters, especially Bella and Edward. I wouldn’t even mind if Edward’s daughter joined us.
I’ve never felt that way before.
Note: For those sensitive to certain issues, please note this story may contain triggers.
Who me? I read a lot, and I tend to write Twilight AU, with heavy focus on Bella and Edward. If you want to play in my sandbox, I recently completed The Deluded, and have put up a O/S called A Winter in Chicago, written for the 2010 Twlight Winter Gift Exchange. I also co-authored Perchance to Dream with Lilliput. And I'm an old lady, but I'm still kicking, even if I have to wear support hose while I do it. Eww, sorry for the visual.