I devoured Call Me Evie, by J.P. Pomare. I have to let you all in on a secret. I hate books written in first person narrative, and I despise books with an unreliable narrator. That said, this book has both of those things, and I loved it.
The story of 17-year-old Melbourne High School girl, Kate and the fall out from one night is told through tight writing, flashbacks to the past and back to present day New Zealand where she finds herself locked away in a remote cabin by a man claiming to be her Uncle. The supporting characters are well drawn, and just the slightest bit creepy but the story belongs to Kate/Evie and her struggle to tell what is accurate from what is a lie.
Call Me Evie is one of the best books I've read in years, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who likes a well-told thriller woven with interesting characters. It makes you think, leads you down false paths. You can't trust yourself when you are trying to figure out what is happening any more than you can believe Kate/Evie.
This is a very impressive debut novel. I can't wait to see what J.P Pomare has up his sleeve for his next book. He has set the bar ridiculously high with this one.
The novel is mainly narrated by Evie/Kate and from the get-go we’re intrigued to know why she’s in a remote corner of New Zealand with the mysterious Jim. He seems to be both benefactor and persecutor, and the author keeps the tension flowing as we switch from “before” to “after” chapters, always wondering exactly who Jim is. Kate is 17, and something awful happened back in Melbourne. One night Jim tells her that “his life support was switched off”. So we assume there’s been a murder. Did Kate do it? Did Jim? Is Jim the father of Kate’s friend Willow? We get the back story of Kate’s teenage life as she negotiates friendship and first love, and we know that Kate’s mother has been dead a long time, getting a hint of mental illness. Her father is a former rugby hero who’s turned to finance.
Central to the book are questions of memory: their reliability, their absence, whether they can be instilled or invented. We’re not sure whether to trust Kate’s interpretation of events. Jim’s behaviour is certainly weird. He seems to be a very caring jailer, if increasingly unhinged. Credit to Pomare’s writing skill that we never quite know what’s what until right at the very end. All the plot points dovetail neatly. Oh - revenge porn is also central to the plot. Pomare shows why a savvy teen might allow herself to be filmed. Recommended.