"Before I begin, you have to understand something. What must be understood is that his evil was as apparent to me as his yearning to be angelic."
There is a difference between excuse and explanation. No one knows this better than Catherine Sellers as she recounts the story of her relationship with Thomas Christie to their child.
Failure to Navigate is a fictitious re-telling of a true story inspired by personal letters, authentic medical documents, and verbal accounts from those who have survived. With the late1960s and early 1970s as a backdrop, Catherine and Thomas's romance begins in a whirlwind of underground parties, fast cars, and drug-fueled nights. Things turn dark as Thomas sinks deeper and deeper into his mental illness and Catherine tries to navigate the emotion and violence that comes with it.
The pendulous back-and-forth nature of their relationship is as extreme as the thoughts in Thomas's mind, swinging between the sweetest, tenderest moments of young love to the erratic brutality of abuse. Though he yearns to be “a good, good man,” Thomas's attempts at redemption are no match for the depth of his sins.
Thomas's first-hand account and Catherine's perspective from both then and now together reveal the details of their equally sordid and sweet history, bringing into question the black-and-white nature of good versus evil and just how blurry the line between the two can be.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
I’m just going to start out by admitting that I’m totally biased. I am acquainted with the authors (can I say acquainted? Well I’m gonna) and I have followed a lot of their writing and love their style. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book since they announced it. Plus I love books that make me ache. So you can take this review with a grain of salt if you wish. Totally understandable.
This book is based on a real people, Catherine and Thomas and their disastrous relationship. Thomas has some issues. He’s angry, he’s violent, and he has poor impulse control. He’s also incredibly smooth, filthy rich with a last name that gets him out of trouble. And extremely manipulative. His mother did some things a mother should never do and his father did nothing.
At eighteen, Thomas is fresh out of another stay at a mental institution. Sixteen year old Catherine is impressionable and ready to fall in love. Who better to fall in love with than the exceedingly charming Thomas? Fall in love she does, hard and fast, in an all-or-nothing teenage way.
Catherine lets Thomas consume her. She skips school, lies to her parents. There are tons of drugs and booze and she excuses Thomas’s violent and erratic behavior. She loves Thomas with her whole being, even after he does terrible things to her.
Thomas has no idea what love really is. He messes around with hookers behind Catherine’s back. He loves and hates her at the same time. He hurts her on purpose. He mentally and emotionally abuses her and everyone around him. He hates his soon to be stepmom and gets her twelve-year-old son addicted to drugs.
When things are good though, they are very good, the best and Catherine can’t let go. The story follows them for two years, the through the complete breakdown of Thomas and this relationship with Catherine.
I’m gonna say it again. I loved this book. Okay, and not just because of the authors and the writing but because I know a Thomas like person. I have witnessed a lot of what Catherine and Thomas’s friends and family witnessed. They are fun when they want to be fun and absolutely terrifying when something pisses them off. I guess I connected with Catherine on some level.
This book can be a tough read sometimes. It doesn’t shy away from difficult stuff, the physical abuse specifically. But when the subject is about mental illness, do you want to gloss over the specifics? There are lots of triggers and I can understand why this book would be hard for people to take in.
I highly recommend this book if you like stories that twist the knife in your heart!