- Paperback: 502 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1475050062
- ISBN-13: 978-1475050066
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,236,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gaze Paperback – March 1, 2012
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About the Author
Javier A. Robayo immigrated to the United States in 1988. He began writing at 13 years of age as a way of learning English. He studied Literature and Spanish at Slippery Rock University. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and their two girls. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
*Characters: My overall impression of Samantha, was that she is something of a walking disaster area, and should come complete with a warning label attached. She is a good person at heart, but creates a great deal of trouble for herself. She demonstrates both weakness and strength, simultaneously. Her strength is evident in the fact that she is still alive and kicking, against all odds, and her weakness is shown by her drinking habits and self-destructive nature. Despite all of her myriad flaws as a human being, I still wanted to get to know her. I was still concerned about how things would turn out for her, and her character touched me in a way that few fictional characters do. She is one of those rare few characters that make you wish they were real.
Tony's role is the story is of enormous importance, but his actual time as an active participant in dialogue is very short by comparison to that of some other characters. He's a good, honorable man, but subject to making the same mistakes that the rest of us mere mortals often do.
Gwen, oh what to say about Gwen? She is everything that anyone could ever hope to find in a friend. I won't say too much for fear of adding spoilers, but if you read the book and find yourself questioning her actions and reactions, take a moment and really think about her position. She may, on the surface, seem too good to be believable, but if you examine her character at a greater depth, everything becomes clear. I'm sorry if I am being vague, but I really don't want to spoil anything because I know how much tension her interaction with Samantha created for me while reading, and I wouldn't want to deprive another reader of that facet of the story.
Lewis is, by far, my favorite character in the book. His dialogue with Samantha felt so natural and so right, that it was like they were real people, people that I would gladly go meet for a drink or two. I look forward to reading his book in the future. Lewis is, in short, Samantha's rock. But he isn't afraid to tell her how it is, without all of the sugar coating.
There are several more characters, including the villain, Brooks, but I won't go into any depth on them. I will simply say that they were all well rounded and fleshed out to the degrees necessary for their parts in the story.
*Plot: The plot takes a number of twists and turns. While I saw some of them coming, there were others that took me entirely by surprise. In the beginning portion of the book, I was sitting there with a million questions running through my head. There are many events that are hinted at in those first chapters and those hints made it difficult for me to put the book down, without first knowing the answers. The answers came a piece at a time, slowly unfolding from Samantha's mind as memories and flashbacks. I know some people hate flashbacks, but these were very well done. There wasn't a moment where I was confused about the time frame. It was always perfectly clear and the transitions were smooth. By the final chapters, I was completely up to speed on exactly who Samantha was, and all of the events that made her that way.
*Dialogue: An area where a lot of authors fall flat. As I mentioned above, the dialogue between Lewis and Samantha was excellent and this held true for the entire cast of characters throughout the book. There wasn't a single point where I felt that a conversation wasn't completely realistic.
*Overall Summation: To say that it was a good read, would be an understatement. I laughed, I cried (which I hate doing), but more than anything, it made me think. It spawned a lot of self-analyzation, and a storm of memories. I could relate myself, or someone I knew, to every single character in the book, even Brooks, in some way. I don't usually have a huge emotional response to the characters in a book, but these made me wish that they were real (except for Brooks, him I would push into a fire), because they come across so genuine on the pages. As I read, I found myself wanting to know more about them, and that is what pulled me through the whole book, that need to see what happened to them.
*The Bad: My only issue with the whole book was the length. I felt it got a little slow at some points, but it wasn't terrible and it was necessary. I don't think Mr. Robayo could have achieved the same depth in his characters, if the book were shorter, but at the same time I wanted to hurry up and get to the end. I wanted to know how everything ultimately turned out and even while I was frustrated with the length of it, everything that happened was necessary to the over all progression and flow of the story. So I guess I can't really say the length is bad, only my impatience with myself, for not reading fast enough to satisfy my curiosity on a schedule equal to that of my patience levels.
I think that last sentence may be the most conflicted thing I have ever written, but it should speak volumes about my feelings towards this book. It is a five star read, and I highly recommend it. I will in fact, be shipping a paperback copy to a friend of mine. She's my Gwen and my Lewis, all rolled into one and this story made me think of her.
We're introduced to twenty-year-old Samantha when a customer at the diner she waitresses at catches her attention as he intensely writes on a paper placemat. Curious, she boldly sits across from him and inquires about what he's writing, which he declines to share. She gives up and returns to work. When the man leaves the diner just as her shift ends, she sees the placemat has been left behind. Samantha also learns from his bill that his name is Tony Amaya.
Samantha responds to the indirect invitation and reads what Tony had written: a moving poem about his lost love, Gwen. In it, he declares his undying love for her. Much is revealed about Samantha in her response to this poem. Impulsively, she runs after Tony and asks for a ride home. This action leads to becoming a one-night stand.
Over a decade later-- years that had been wrought with heartache, abuse, and addiction-- Samantha hunts down her obsession, Tony Amaya, on Facebook and befriends his wife, Gwen. As this unnerving friendship develops, the reader learns why it is that Samantha can't stand her own gaze.
Before delving into my analysis of characterization, I'd like to point out that British Samantha's first person narrative is created by Ecuadorian Javier A. Robayo. The narrative reads so feminine that I had to keep reminding myself a male wrote it. This a major achievement alone.
You may have picked up in my summary that this story frustrated me, or more precisely, the characters frustrated me, which is also a testament to Robayo's genius. I wanted to pluck almost all of them off the page at different times and give them a good shake for their poor choices, choices that I've unfortunately witnessed people I know make. Robayo's characters are flawed, broken, and deceive themselves in their true motives, just as real flesh-and-blood people do. But despite their deficiencies, they also possess enduring and noble qualities. These traits are portrayed especially well in Samantha's relationship with her childhood friend, Lewis. Everyone should have a friend like Lewis.
Along with demonstrating the complexity of the human mind and heart in his characters, Robayo also masters their dialogue. It's very natural and believable. Writing dialogue in another dialect can be disastrous, but Robayo pulls this challenge off brilliantly. The English come across authentic. I especially enjoyed exchanges between Samantha and the very witty Lewis.
Due to sexual content and adult situations, I do not recommend this novel for anyone under the age of 18. For adults who enjoy an exceptional character study, you'll appreciate this tale of human failure and triumph told from the perspective of "the other woman," and I predict you'll become an ardent Javier A. Robayo fan, too.