We Are Watching Eliza Bright – A. E. Osworth

This is 400 pages of bewilderment.

400 pages of suspense. Of sexism and feminism. Of continuity and contradictions. Of life and death and loss and gain. Of fiction and reality. Of Us.

Eliza Bright is minding her own smart business at work when some of her co-workers decide to play a bad joke that turns into harassment and verbal abuse and a huge load of sexism thrown her way. She doesn’t feel so safe anymore. The person who could change things—her boss—and stop this nonsense doesn’t think it’s a ‘‘big deal.’’ So she betrays her company’s loyalty (not like they haven’t betrayed her first) and speaks about what she is going through to the media. She’s fired and the consequences of her actions—her defending herself—put her safety even more at risk. She is threatened and watched and stalked and she’s about to lose it. Will she make it out alive?

If this seems quite dramatic to you, well keep in mind that I have barely even mentioned 25% of what happens. There is much, much more, but the most unique element included in this story is definitely its narration style. It’s in the 1st person plural—the famous We—and the ‘‘we’’ represents various people. It’s as intriguing as it is confusing. It’s for you to figure out who the author meant to watch Eliza Bright, as referred in the title. Men? Women? Non-gender conforming groups of people? People like me, you or us? It’s strange, unusual, and mysterious even, but it works. It adds to the overall surreal atmosphere of the story. While harassment and sexism are not rare occurrences, in this book they are the cataclysm that sets everything else into motion and nothing to be made light of.

In the end, it’s a powerful story. You can feel from the start that the impact this book will have on you will be great. It’s also an enjoyable reading experience, at times more serious and at other times lighter. The phone and G-chat conversations sure do help the reader advance through this story quicker, and serve as a temporary break from an otherwise more conventional type of storytelling, narration style excluded. If I had to change something about this overall written work it would certainly be the uncertainty created by the ‘‘we’’ pronoun. Because the we does not represent any of the main characters, the we does not know everything and there is one particular chapter that is repeated three or four times with slight alterations, seeing as the narrators couldn’t be sure of how the event unfolded. I could have done without the repetition. Otherwise, chapeau!

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.