Publication Date: November 19, 2012
Arrabelle is a young model from New Zealand living in Thailand and at war with her “shadows.” Her life may look glamorous from the outside but inside she’s falling apart.
The author, who is self-published, provided me with a copy of this book for review.
Arabelle’s Shadows is written in the style of diary and brings us to the heart of an insecure young model. She fights failure, depression and the sense of really truly wanting someone to approve of and love her. Her relationship with her father is summed up in a dinner when she returns to New Zealand. He tells her he’s proud of her and her heart swells until she realizes that he’s drunk. Suddenly her relationships within the novel are put into perspective. This is a woman who needs a hug from someone who means that hug just for her.
Arrabelle’s story isn’t chronologically written but the switches between years are segregated by chapter so easy to follow. Each line follows a personal disappointment. A time when Arrabelle feels she’s failed and the “shadows” creep in. Based on Gaskin’s own life, the story does have a very personal feel. You are reading the often harsh and sometimes destructive life of a model first hand. The sort of life that America’s Next Top Model hints at but struggles to convey with bubbly and adoring Tyra at the helm. A model must not be too curvy, they must be interesting. Arrabelle, who is more of an editorial model and can’t pull off the big money commercial jobs, is given diet pills by a photographer when she’s deemed too fat. Arrabelle is very candid about her recreational drug use and sexual encounters though not graphically or gratuitously. Modeling, it appears, is all about constantly working on ones shape and image and nothing is up to par. The life is devastating for someone who wants something as simple as just being good enough.
Arrabelle’s story is in the spirit of such classics as “Bright Lights, Big City.” It’s well written and well told from an insider’s view looking back. There’s a feeling of other-worldliness in setting which is very well described. Arrabelle is growing up before our eyes and we can’t help but cheer for her.
I would be remise if I didn’t mention the very cool cover on this novel. In the case of Gaskin’s raw tale, the cover is a perfect reflection of what readers will find inside.
If you like coming of age stories, human struggle stories and generally raw looks into a field where most people have a short shelf life, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better example than Arabelle’s Shadows.
To learn more about the author, visit her website at http://www.fightingtheshadows.