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THE VIEW FROM WHO I WAS by Heather Sappenfield


by Heather Sappenfield

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4174-1
Publisher: Flux

She’s beautiful, popular, athletic, brilliant, rich and in love—yet Oona Antunes feels herself divide into two selves at the Winter Formal on the night she takes her own life.

Frostbitten, battered and bruised, Oona is rescued after her heart stopped beating. Both selves undergo a harsh, invigorating rebirth, and one starts to rebuild relationships: with her unhappy parents (distant father, embittered mother), the best friend she’s outgrown and the boy who loves her. Partly healed, Oona (already admitted to Yale) agrees to spend a week providing college-application advice to gifted students at an American Indian boarding school in New Mexico. The experience—especially her friendship with a Navajo girl—grounds Oona, pointing her way forward. The unnamed narrator, one of Oona’s halves (she terms the other “Corpse”), has a gripping, elegiac voice that invites readers’ trust. The wintry Colorado-mountain-town setting and enormous, cold Antunes mansion skillfully echo the water tropes in plot and theme. The story winds to a peak of tension, then collapses at the end like a house of cards. Big questions remain—why Oona chose this night, this route; why she split in two—whereas explanations provided not only fail to justify suicide, they consign her to secondary status in her own story.

Beautifully written—but after such polished, elegant storytelling, the end feels like a betrayal.

(Fiction. 13-16)