Howdy y’all! This is my third month going into the Backlist Revival Project and the stories simply get better and better. For March, the project’s book of the month is:
Cities by Carla de Guzman
Instead of a goodreads summary, here is an excerpt from Cities:
Chapter 1: Dreams
The thing about dreams, there’s always something in the back of your mind that tells you that you’re dreaming. It’s like a subconscious warning signal, telling you not to get too involved, not to believe what you think you can see. In dreams, there’s a glow about the edges that you can’t place. Everything is wonderfully unreal. Dreams can end when you want them to.
I was trapped in a dream, a dream that felt like a memory.
There were no glowing edges, or subconscious warnings in my mind as I walked through it. The breeze was humid and real, my toes kicked against the warm rocks baking under the sun. It had to be a memory. I never came back to this place after graduation, no matter how much I had loved attending this school. In the harsh and scary real world, I was an adult with an adult job. Now…here I felt I was a young, naive little thing, still excited at the possibilities of life, still brave about love. That wasn’t who I was anymore, and that hadn’t been who I was in a long time.
So what was I doing here?
I stood in the hallways between the parking lot and the Communications building, one of my favorite spots in my school. The sun spent its last moments by glowing brilliant and orange, casting its golden light on everything it touched. My skin prickled in the warmth and my heart fluttered. I turned my hand over and realized that I was holding a fresh white rose.
Oh. This was a memory. A particularly bad one that I had hoped to forget.
The school bells chimed in the distance, and my heart twisted in my ribcage. I tried to wake myself up and stop myself from remembering the horror of this moment, but the light kept me rooted to the spot.
He’s not coming, I told myself, like I was trying to keep my own heart from getting hurt. He didn’t come, remember? He never showed up. Wake up, Celia. Wake up!
I held my breath. You may not die in dreams, but in memories I wasn’t so sure. The world was still and he wasn’t coming.
As the last of the chimes faded away and the sun shed its last rays, a figure appeared at the end of the hall. The footsteps squeaked and drummed against the pavement as I gasped.
“Celia!” He exclaimed, catching his breath as he finally stopped in front of me, his own white rose in his hand. “Am I late?”
For the goodreads summary, kindly click here.
I am not a big of a reader of contemporaries, however when I do get to read a good one, it would have been something that made me think, something I related to (either on a spiritual level or at least non-primordially), and a story I hold dear in my heart. I didn’t expect this, but Cities comes into my life checking all those aforementioned.
When I read the first few chapters, I thought “oh no, not another insta-love contemporary again.” I was worried that the book would go on that way. But boy, was I wrong. As I read on, I got to understand and see the concept and general idea of the story which was a love story exploring multiverses.
It definitely caught my attention and made me think how it was the perfect recipe for a good read. Contemporaries usually follow the obvious and cliche types of plots but Cities was pleasantly different and distinct. It also satisfyingly answered the common question usually raised by stories following this genre. The question of maybes and what ifs.
The beginning of the book described about the distinction between dreams and memories. At first I was a bit caught off guard how the storyline was like this for one moment and suddenly turned into that on the next. I had to pause and ask myself, is this scene happening in present time? Is this a dream, or a memory? But as I thought about it, there was a light bulb that just pinged to light in my mind. Oh, this is what happens in a parallel universe.
And in line with the idea of multiverses, the author narrated three different possible outcomes and futures of our characters — Celia, Ben, Vivian, and Henry. All of which showed the different positions and relationships the characters could have had but somehow lead to only one ultimate fate. Which brings me to another concept covered by the story: determinism. What I loved most about this, was how in all those universes, they would still have inevitably crossed paths with each other.
In the first part of the story, our main character, Celia, was going to be the maid of honor for her bestfriend, Vivian’s, wedding to her friend and former crush (and ex-*sort of* lover) Ben. All throughout the time, there was a thought that clouded over Celia. Looking at Ben, it made her think about where would she be if only she took that offer in Seoul? What if she was the one walking towards Ben on that aisle? What if she and Ben were supposed the couple that lived happily ever after? What was worst of was that we got to find out that if not for Celia, Vivian and Ben wouldn’t even be marrying each other in the first place. Ouch.
Good thing, her good ol’bestfriend Henry was there. Always by her side, ready to comfort her or make her laugh or just hang out. Or is it? 😉
So then started her dreams — or memories — or rather, a glimpse of multiverses. And let me tell ya, her journey towards finding herself– towards finding closure for her feelings– were soooooooo good. Everything just came clicking into place and you got to read conclusions and closures and it was so well-written that I wouldn’t have wanted it to be told any other way.
As much as I would like to tell you everything that went down, I don’t want to spoil you. It’s quite seldom that I get this excited to discuss a contemporary though so please, please, if you haven’t read this yet, go get a copy so we could discuss its wonder together. Okay? Okay.
So with all that’s said and done, you could probably guess by now that I absolutely loved reading this book. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carla de Guzman started out like any writer, sitting in front of her dial-up Internet computer and discovering fanfiction. Riddled with sleep apnea and a vivid imagination, she started writing every midnight.
she still reads good fics obsessively, writes fanfiction secretly and still loves the idea of finding good fics.
she, her parents and nine crazy siblings love to travel together, eat together, and watercolor together, so she could say she’s pretty happy.
Thanks for reading! Til the next post. x