3 out of 4 stars
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Over the course of your life, I bet you’ve found yourself at multiple crossroads, having to make a decision that would determine your future. And with all the choices you’ve made, I bet you’ve asked yourself this question at least once: What if? What if you’d gone this way instead? What if you’d taken another road? I bet you’ve also wished that there was a way to go back, undo your actions, and see what’s behind a different door.
Casey Warren — the heroine of Katie Bramble’s magical novel, Written — obtains a way to answer the major "what ifs" in her life. Although smart and talented, her fear of making the wrong decision keeps her from pursuing her passions, leaving her feeling stuck and increasingly unhappy with the way things have become. A solution arrives in the form of a journal, with each page serving as “a doorway to a different life.” Whatever Casey writes in the pages (for as long as she has the potential for it) eventually comes true. And should Casey feel that she’d taken a wrong turn, she could tear the page, obliterate the reality she’d created, and retrace her steps. But there’s a caveat: any possibility she destroys will be gone forever. She can never have that life back. Casey gains success and riches, but happiness is still elusive. Will the journal turn out to be a blessing or a curse?
Plenty of fictional works have dealt with the idea of alternate realities, and Bramble’s take on the concept is just as compelling. Maybe it’s because Written evokes a common human dilemma — the struggle for purpose and direction in one’s life. It’s very easy to relate with what Casey is going through and become completely engrossed in her story once she gains possession of the magical journal. Who wouldn’t want this power? Who wouldn’t want to have such an opportunity? To her credit, Casey doesn’t squander the chance she’s been given to create the life that she’s always wanted. She considers her options carefully, and when events don’t lead to the expected outcome, we share her frustration and despair.
Bramble crafted such a strong and coherent storyline that a reader is quickly drawn and wrapped up in the narrative. It’s clear that she’s building toward a life lesson, both for Casey and the reader. And to my relief, the message isn’t preachy, forced, or clumsily delivered. Although it’s not anything that we haven’t heard before, we reach this epiphany at the same time Casey does. The future is unknown, but sometimes, we just have to embrace the ambiguity of life and have faith that “the universe is a better organizer” than we could ever be.
I could imagine Written as a TV miniseries or a movie, and given the author’s background as a film and TV producer, this might have been her initial intention. The plot is briskly paced, and the characters — from the enigmatic woman who gave Casey the journal to Casey’s Heineken-drinking friends — all play memorable roles in how the story unfolded. The only drawback here is the presence of errors (e.g., missing punctuation marks, word usage errors, typos). While the book seemed like it was professionally edited, it could definitely use another revision.
Written gets 3 out of 4 stars from me. If you’ve ever felt adrift, lost, or in dire need of a “cosmic rewind button,” Casey’s tale will surely resonate with you. If you want a light read that’s filled with interesting bits about life in the entertainment industry, Written is an excellent choice. There are no explicit sex scenes, and there's only minimal profanity, making this suitable for younger readers as well.
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