From the first page, you know that Cassie Draws the Universe is a dark tale. It opens with a dead body. Who’s body? You don’t know. And you won’t until near the end of the book. On the second page, you are introduced to Cassie. And before you know really anything about Cassie, you know that this story is about “all the terrible things that happened to her, and the terrible things she did as a result.”
It is impossible to start reading this book and think that it will have a happy ending. If you are looking for happy fun times, do not read this book. As in any story that is written primarily as one giant flashback, you know where you’ll end up. But the interesting thing is the journey the protagonist takes to get to that ending.
Cassie is a teenager being raised by her hard-working mother, because her father died before she was born. The book is written from her perspective, and her perspective is unusual. She sees the world through a sort of magical filter. Her mother is too tall and big to fit through her door and has hands the size of tennis rackets. Is that likely? No. But Cassie’s mind is the lens through which she sees her world.
She keeps a journal that is full of stories and is a highly intelligent, extremely talented writer, but is also a self-imposed loner, and has no friends in school. That is, until Amy moved into town. Amy is the daughter of the new English teacher Mr. Cole. And she is immediately drawn to the complex Cassie. They form a close relationship and Cassie begins to see Mr. Cole as a sort of father figure and mentor.
From here out, the story becomes emotionally difficult and heartbreaking. There are minor and major incidents that help form the plot, and therefore, your perception of Cassie. The story is dark, complex, engaging, and wonderfully written. It is also an impressive attempt at demonstrating what a psychotic break would be like, as experienced from inside the mind of that individual. As one would expect, this is not a light read. Even so, it was impossible for me to put down once I started it, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I finished.
I highly recommend this book and look for future contributions from this talented author.