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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Don't Look at Me by JP Grider is a moving story that explores the question: What happens when we get broken beyond repair? Haven Queen, an air journalist, has put in so much work to succeed and at times she feels irritated because her mother, Hannah Queen, doesn’t appreciate what she’s got. Haven reports on a slasher who disfigures the faces of women by cutting them. Then she becomes a victim, and everything changes. Now with a hole in her face and without a job, she feels terribly lonely, without confidence, and as though someone has stolen her life. Things aren’t working out for Quest after being dishonorably discharged from the army. A collection of books left by his grandfather for Haven — one of his best customers — triggers an encounter that will bring together the lives of these broken characters. Can they heal each other?
This book has a powerful premise. Readers encounter a character who has a job and who has a life, but whose life is suddenly transformed the moment she encounters a vicious creature and her face is disfigured. The question that runs through the reader’s mind is: Can Haven ever be the same again? JP Grider gets readers to pay attention to the characters by letting their humanity and brokenness come out vividly through the narrative. The different layers of the narrative — the psychological, emotional, and physical — are well developed and balanced with empathy. The first person narrative allows readers to connect with the varying emotions experienced by the characters. Don't Look at Me is an interesting novel, infused with a rare sense of realism and dotted with literary beauty. It’s a thought provoking read.