Are There Lesbians? Yes
What Happens? Zara lands the role of a lifetime acting as Echo in her favourite Greek tragedy – Echo and Ariston – however the increasingly demanding director requires she has no outside distractions, something that becomes more and more difficult as people being to die, and then there’s the small matter of Eli, the cute assistant lighting director.
Wow what a book! I have read some good queer lit recently and this only continues the streak. From the very first page I was completely captivated by Capetta’s lyrical-without-being-pretentious writing style and incredible sense of world building. I am sincerely disappointed Echo and Ariston is not a real play because it sounds fantastic and I want to read it all (it sounds like a cross between Swan Lake and Dido of Carthage!!).
Echo After Echo is such a well-put together book that it is easy to forget that it is a YA – a genre where, sadly, the writing, plots and characters can so often become simplified or generic. Even the most minor of characters are fully fleshed out and interesting, it is easy to believe that they could each be the main character of their own narratives. I think my only gripe would be that at first Eli felt too aggressively “cool” and at first she seemed like a bit of a cookie-cutter character with her ripped jeans and flip-knife, rather than an actual person. However, as the story continued she, like all characters, became much more fully fleshed out (into a very cute lighting nerd!).
In a post- Harvey Weinstein world, characters like the director Leopold Henneman are especially chilling. The way that everything and everyone is expected to bow before his “genius” is typical of not only middle aged white men but typifies the arts in general. There is a terrifying undercurrant throughout the book that Henneman destroys women for his art. There is mention of rape and suicide as well as drug and alcohol abuse – each having their root in this specific character. It is easy to hate him, but Capetta has also done the fantastic job of making him a somewhat tragic figure towards the end.
To turn to brighter things, the main relationship between Eli and Zara is absolutely adorable. I love them so much and am in love with their love. Their relationship builds slowly and naturally with just enough love-at-first-sight to appease the very terrible romantic I am inside. My favourite of course is the whole “I like girls too no really please pick up these hints that I like girls and I like you” dance that feels so familiar to me (because I have been through it with The GF) especially because Zara is bi and Eli seems really intent on only picking up that she’s been in relationships with guys. I could go on and on about this.
Of course it is important to mention that the main characters of Echo After Echo aren’t white. Zara is Jewish and Eli is Latina. I feel it is also important to mention that the Adonis-like Adrian has ADHD and is a fantastic representation of the disorder. I love him so much and deeply want for him to be happy! There is so much good representation in this book. By this I mean that the “diversity” is enough that the book simply feels natural rather than as if Capetta has simply gone down a check-list. At the risk of getting wildly off topic, this is really all I need from a book, not simply a single black or Asian character in a vast sea of whiteness, or one woman on an otherwise all male team. Give me a reflection of the real world and I will believe the story so much more.
Echo After Echo is a truly fantastic story that weaves a romance and a murder mystery perfectly together to form a tragedy that echoes (heh) the Greek playwrights. Whether or not the ending is a good one or not is up to the reader and you’ll have to read the book to find out!