Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guest Fic Rec: Gemmabobella Gets Brave

I am so glad to have the opportunity to recommend this story, Brave. I stumbled upon this story as a judge for the Indie Twific Awards, and I was immediately blown away by it. It is one of those T rated fics that can so easily be overlooked, but is quite possibly one of the best novellas I've read ... ever. It is told with such tenderness and written so well. I couldn't help but take the time to read slowly, read each and every word, and become completely wrapped up in the story.

It is the story of a very human Edward who suffers from cripling anxiety attacks, so severe that he is incapable of interacting with anyone outside of his family. Well, at least until he meets Bella. As is very canon, Edward is immediately aware of Bella and is suprised both by her kindness and her ability to understand his anxiety.

She was beautiful. And she was staring right at me with deep brown eyes full of understanding and compassion. They sparkled with just a bit of humor, but not enough to make me feel as if she might be amused by my distress.

Bella is able to understand Edward's anxiety, and discovers that the best way to communicate with him is through passing notes. What I find truly amazing is the fact that no one had to tell Bella why Edward sat isolated from the rest of the students in class, no one told her why his hands were in tight fists and he was nearly shaking with his attempt to control his anxiety, and no one explained Edward's anxiety.

There is something truly special about the instant bond that seems to form between Edward and Bella. Knowing how difficult every day life is for Edward, I couldn't help but feel his relief right along with him as he realizes that there is something different about Bella.

I read the note three times, almost laughing aloud each time. For the first time in years, I looked directly into the eyes of someone other than my family and smiled. In addition to a heart-achingly adorable Edward and Bella, I also fell in love with the supporting case of Cullens.

I especially loved the way Sunking wrote Rosalie's character. Here, she is Emmett's girlfriend, but acts and behaves as if she were truly Edward's older sister. She is protective without being too bitchy, and I found her characterization to be refreshing. But mostly I love the way all of the characters are written, and getting to know them through Edward's eyes. Because of his condition, he is mostly an observer of life as it happens around him, and as such gives him a unique perspective on others. It allows his narrative to be incredibly insightful as well as credible.

As the story progresses and Edward continues to make progress, little by little thanks to Bella's influence, you can't help but cheer him along and celebrate each of his little accomplishments. Every time he actually speaks, I wanted to reach through the screen and give him a huge hug.

I wanted to describe my parents for her, but the words still just wouldn't come. I did manage to say, "I'm glad you're joining us tonight." Her face lit up as if I'd told her she'd won the lottery. She never pushed me to speak, but her happiness when I did encouraged me to try more often.

As the story continues, we follow Edward as he decides to try medication to manage his anxiety; something that had failed and nearly caused him to commit suicide the last time he had tried medication. It is here that we truly get a sense of how severe his anxiety is and how desperate he is to conquer his anxiety. Through it all, Bella is there by his side, encouraging him and comforting him. Where things might have become too cheesy or too saccharine, Sunking manages to keep things simple and honest.
I felt my throat clog with emotion and turned away before she could see the tears fill my eyes. The little pill weighed heavily in my palm and I pulled myself up with a new purpose. Fix it. Deserve her.

And when the medication starts to work, Edward is blessed with a full night's sleep and a beautiful dream of his Bella. The tone of the story shifts to one of hope, and like Edward's friends and family, I felt a great sense of pride in his strength and perserverence as he struggled through the different medications. His drive to be better for Bella is simply endearing. Bella, perhaps, describes it best in one of her notes to him; as his hope begins to show in his music.

You have such an amazing gift, Edward. I can tell a difference in your playing in the last few weeks. There's a lighter touch to the sonatas and a deeper meaning to the nocturnes. It feels almost as if you've put your own personal experiences into each song that you play, and they touch me even more deeply than before. I know that the sleep you get now, and the concentration that you've gained, help. But there's something more. There's a note of hope, an overtone of happiness, and it makes it that much more beautiful.

The final hurdle that Edward faces in this short story is his audition and application to Julliard. But this time, the anxiety he experiences is the kind that most people would experience in his place. But for Edward, the anxiety is also linked to his fear that if he were accepted, it would mean his separation from Bella as well.

She is there with him at the audition, along with his family, encouraging him.

I turned to Bella, drinking her in with my eyes. Her hair was down and in soft curls from Alice's efforts. A deep blue turtleneck set off the rose of her cheeks. Her eyes, though, were what I would remember as I set my music on the stand. They were glowing with pride; she believed in me, even when I couldn't believe in myself. Her strength had led me here, and it would sustain me until I reached the door on the other side.

The way Sunking writes his audition is incredibly beautiful and touching. As a musician, I always appreciate it when an author manages to capture what it truly means to be a musican, to play music, to completely give yourself to the music you play. With every word, I felt my heart slowly work its way up into my throat. I know I said it above, but it bears repeating; this story is told with such tenderness and it really touched me.

The final chapter is a culmination of everything that brought Edward to his audition, and ties the story together perfectly. I really could quote the entire chapter in here, it is all so good. But I won't. Because I know you are going to go read this short little story right now, just like you should.

I don't want to spoil the ending, because it truly is beautiful. I will, however, leave you with this...

I didn't think that anything could make me happier that day, but I hadn't counted on Bella.

This is truly a touching story, and is written remarkably well. Any story that forces me to slow down and really absorb each and every word is something special - especially in this fandom where it is easy for a story to become weighted down by cliche's and familiar storylines. This novella is perfectly short and sweet.

Be sure to visit Sunking's author page, as she's also written Bella's perspective of Brave, called Catch Your Fall. You'll also want to read Brave: Tomorrow, for a look at Edward and Bella's future.

Gemmabobella, aka Gemma, is the author of Lost and Found and its companion story, Amazing Grace, as well as Let's Get Physical, Going Down?, and a few others. She wishes she didn't need to sleep so that she could spend more time writing and doing everything else in life she wants to do instead of work. She has a black lab that she loves, and is lucky enough to call herself a professional musician. Her family doesn't understand her obsession with the TapFish app on her iphone, where she takes care of imaginary fish, but then again, she doesn't understand why her family is so crazy - so it works.


  1. I think I'm going to read this one soon, thanks to you. Reminds me a bit of Eye Contact and Just Wait, the whole "bring Edward out of his shell" thing :)

  2. Wow. Just wow. Tank you for recommending this story. It's amazing.


Spread The Word