Karen Rivers

you're faking a smile.

Karen Rivers

I've been thinking a lot lately about appearances, and how some peoples' lives appear to be perfect but are not.  And we all know that.  You drive by the perfect house at night and the lights are on, illuminating a tidy living room with gorgeous furniture and without realizing it, you assume that the person who lives there is ... happy.   Why do you do that?

Maybe you don't.  Maybe it's just me.

Recently, in a perfect house on my favourite beach, an elderly man shot himself and his wife.   The newspaper says he was severely depressed.   I walk down the beach and look at the house.  It's new, built in the last few years, and gorgeous in every way.   I have a hard time juxtaposing the sadness within its walls with its beauty.   I do.   

Appearances aren't everything, it's true.    

Rich people aren't happier.    

These things are cliches for a reason.

In WHAT IS REAL, Dex Pratt is seventeen and when his parents split up, he leaves his small town for a big city.   He lives in a beautiful house, attends the best school, has a gorgeous girlfriend.   He has everything, including too much money and too much access to drugs and freedom.   When his stopbrother succumbs to a drug addiction, Dex is blamed.   And when his father attempts suicide and fails, Dex is sent back to his small town, where his old life is not waiting for him in a suburban split-level, but rather in a run-down rental with a grow-op in the basement.      

While I was writing this book, I was thinking about appearances and the value that we place on making things appear to be perfect to the outside world.  How we rarely disclose ugly truths, even though most people have things going on behind closed doors that they don't tell.   Of course, the book is about a lot of other things, too.   Mostly drugs but partly about love and what we do for love, and what we do for family, and how sometimes families mess things up beyond repair.

And it's about keeping up appearances, too.  

I think it's a universal flaw of humanity, our desire to keep up appearances at all costs.   I know I've done it, and I bet you have, too.  

And why, I wonder?   Are we trying to fool everyone else?  Or just ourselves?


I'll be blogging on and off about parts of this book as the pub date approaches.  If you're a book blogger or reviewer and would like an ARC, please send me an e-mail (karen at karenrivers dot com) with your mailing address and I'll make sure you get one.