The Pisces, Melissa Border
In this book, Melissa Border creates a world where reality meets fantasy. The Pisces, being Borders debut novel, stepping away from poetry, is an adult fantasy fiction that takes readers on a journey through, heartbreak, obsession, depression, and lust of all types.
Set in present day California, protagonist Lucy is going through a quarter-life crisis, finding herself frustrated and unhappy with her life. This stems from her stagnant long tern relationship and cosmic writers block towards her dissertation, which she has been writing for over a year and is now wholly uninterested. In other words, Lucy is a mess.
The Pisces is more than a little bawdy and at times despondent. Although this is a far cry from a YA novel, young adults, perhaps in their 20’s, could find many aspects of this book relatable. Borders way of writing keeps the readers interested, even through multiple shocking and cringe worthy moments.
After Lucy’s impetuous break up with her boyfriend, we watch her rapidly spiral downward, moving quickly between regret and obsession towards her failed relationship. In the midst of her despair, Lucy’s older sister persuades her to house sit her Californian beach home and take care of her dog. However in her current emotional state, she is unable to properly care for herself, let alone another creature. This is only made worse when she downloads a dating app, and decides the only way to get over her ex, is to get under someone new.
One bad decision after another leads Lucy to therapy, where she continues to deny her problems. Through her therapy sessions Border introduces a group of women also dealing with their own demons. Readers explore the aftermath of each women’s problem and what brought them to therapy. From drug abuse to sex addiction and self-sabotaging habits, readers might find a character to relate to. Nonetheless Lucy thinks herself better than these women and judges them for their faults. Finding therapy unimpactful, she ends up on the beach and borderline suicidal. This is when she meets Theo, a young man who’s beauty and mysteriousness grips at Lucy’s misplaced emotions. The two quickly engage in a heady sexual relationship, but at first only on the beach at night. It doesn’t take long for Lucy to discover Theo is more than a beautiful mystery, but also a merman.
Readers of the pisces may find the need to compare it to the novel Shape of water, who’s cinematic debut came earlier this year. Other than its aquatic similarities, there can be no comparison. The Pisces dives deeply into the emotions of a women, and how fragile they are. That life doesn’t always go as planned, and an individual may one day look in the mirror and find themselves unrecognisable.
With Lucy’s emotions still in ribbons, she continues to make bad decisions to satiny her selfish and unhealthy needs. Although Theo is what Lucy wants, a distraction and balm for her emotional pain, he is not what she needs. This leads her to become completely suicidal.
Melissa Border does a good job at addressing mental health, emotional distress and addictions without wholly glorifying it through the many relationships each characters engages in. Readers are taken on a journey through life lessons that many may be able to relate to. Border successfully addresses heavy topics throughout the novel by mixing in snappy humour and desire. Additionally, the fantastical elements of the novel aren’t distracting or overpowering, but simply adds a fun and unexpected layer to the story.
At the end of this novel readers may be able to take a step back and apply the lessons learned into their lives. How to love better, be good to themselves, and perhaps accepts their flaws.
The Pisces was a great read, full of fantasy, biting humour and emotion.