About The Book
The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.
The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.
There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?
The blurb for Looker by Laura Sims implies that this book is a thriller about an obsessive stalker, a kind of cat and mouse if you will. If you go into this expecting a psychological thriller then you’d be on the wrong track entirely. This is neither a thriller nor is it a book about a stalker. It is in fact a deep psychological examination of a woman who is unravelling before our very eyes.
The ‘stalking’ is more an obsessive behaviour that begins with an admiration and ends with uncomfortable and upsetting actions. Our unnamed protagonist is a Professor whose marriage has broken down following numerous failed attempts at IVF. She is isolated and utterly alone. She feels empty and distanced from normal life. She becomes an observer rather than participant in life and finds herself increasingly on the periphery.
An A List Hollywood actress lives across the street and our protagonist watches her go about her daily life. She takes walks past her house and observes her at her kitchen table tapping away on her laptop, talking to her husband with a glass of wine in hand and playing with her children. The actress symbolises everything which is lacking from her own life; a husband, a family, recognition and love.
Written in first person narrative we are privy to every thought and emotion of our protagonist. She makes silly decisions, has dark thoughts and being in her head becomes an increasingly intense place to be. There is no respite and we are unwilling participants as she slowly comes apart at the seams. At times it felt like driving past a car crash – not wanting to look but unable to turn away as she slowly descends into madness.
I found it a desperately sad and uncomfortable read but also really quite beautiful. It is a tough subject to write about and although some of our protagonist’s actions become increasingly alarming I didn’t feel they were over exaggerated. She feels punished for something that isn’t her fault and the actress provides a distraction from the reality of her situation. Some of the passages made me weep, her grief and sadness is palpable and I felt emotionally drained after reading.
Looker is a slim novel at just under 200 pages but is a perfectly formed character study of a woman in the depths of grief and depression. Laura Sims demonstrates how easy it is for your life to change and for your plans to be blown asunder. How simple is it to slip from OK to being really, really, not OK. It is quite simply terrifying.
I found this to be an impressive debut and a challenging read. It is a beautifully written impactful book which examines a deeply sad subject matter without veering into mawkishness. I’m not sure it is a book that you can say you enjoyed reading, but I can say that I am pleased that I have read it. It is one of those books that lingers long after reading the final pages and I needed a day or so before I picked up another book – which doesn’t happen all that often.
About The Author
Laura Sims is the author of four books of poetry, and LOOKER is her debut
novel. She lives in Brooklyn.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to the publisher Tinder Press for providing a copy of the book via Netgalley and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for an invitation to join the Blog Tour.