By Zoe Zorka
*** Strangely mesmerizing
If ever you wondered how women really thought about one another-those thoughts absent of rainbows, butterflies, and sunshine-then Zoe Zorka’s realistic mystery piece of fiction, Turn Our Eyes Away, will give you more than a shocking glimpse. I hesitate to even call it a mystery but rather just urban psychological fiction because we get such glimpses inside the minds of the characters rather than the actions that take place to make a mystery apparent.
There once were two childhood girlfriends, Olivia (Oda) and Tiffany, who would grow up facing the same bullying that many kids face. That tormenting caused their bond to be strongr throughout the years. However, something changed around time to graduate and go away to college: something some might call escape and others might call life. One young lady was destined for change and one wasn’t. The changes were physical, mental, and socioeconomic.
The writing in Turn Our Eyes Away is clever, witty, realistic internal and external dialogue that allows you not only into the minds of the characters, but perhaps into the minds of those women sitting beside you in the coffee shop chit chatting or passing you by in the mall snickering about this or that. It’s those plain out honest to a fault sort of thoughts that not many would actually say, but Zorka’s characters do. And what they don’t say, they definitely don’t hesitate to think.
Along with clever dialogue came realistic characters that at least one of which will remind the reader of someone they once knew. However, often I felt as though I was one of her characters being violated with words meant to injure, even though I’m sure that was not Zorka’s intention at all.
Although I cannot speak for her (but perhaps I may see if I can get an interview with her…fingers crossed), I can certainly say as a reader I felt the reality of bullying through her words and her characters. At times throughout Turn Our Eyes Away I felt extremely insulted, and at other times I felt completely vindicated and rejoiced. Quite the spotlight put not just on bullying throughout childhood, but in adulthood as well.
My disappointments with Turn Our Eyes Away were limited, but issues for me still the same. The formatting of the book was that of police reports and electronic diaries of the two main characters. Although I didn’t mind that too terribly much, there were quite a few errors that I wasn’t sure if were intentional due to added realism of them being reports and diary entries, or simply not caught during proofing. The only other area of concern for me was that there were more moments than I care to think about where I felt there was product placement going on. I don’t think I’ve ever read a piece of fiction where so many brand names were thrown around. Although I have no problem with the names of products being used, it felt as though Zorka was being paid to strategically use them. I wanted to fast forward through the commercials.
As aforementioned, I found Zorka’s work insightful. I also feel as though it is an essential way to relay the importance of ridding our schools and beyond of bullying. I would recommend this book to readers of variety types of fiction. I’d say it is a powerful piece and can really hit home if you’ve been on the receiving end of bullying, or an eye-opening piece to those who may have bullying in their past or their present.