Identity is an interesting thing. The many identities we hold for ourselves and for others, the ones that we share and the ones we keep secret – friend, wife, sister, brave, lost, hopeful. What makes or shapes our true identity? Is it us, in the end? Or is it really what others assign to us?
“Identity” is a theme that runs throughout E.J. Runyon’s Good People, a new novel about the journeys we all take to figure ourselves out, and the people we might meet along the way.
The story oscillates between two points of view, Bernie’s – a woman trying to escape her abusive husband – and Meg’s – a transgender woman who has a habit of trying to save lost people.
Bernie and Meg both find themselves in the same apartment building in LA for the summer, and even though their paths look quite different at first glance, the story weaves them together in a way that makes the reader understand a bit better how people can connect even under the most unlikely of circumstances.
Meg is a writer, and throughout her narration we see her constantly observing others – finding characters in the people around her, finding stories in the lives that unfold close to her. When Bernie moves into the same apartment building as her, we see Meg’s story revealed in the ways that she watches Bernie. She tries to tell herself she’s doing it to learn about the characters around her, when it turns out she’s really trying to mend her wounds that still lay open from her past.
Reading Good People, you get a glimpse into the lives of not just Bernie and Meg, but the people around them – friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. Everyone they encounter weaves a different part of the story, and you’ll find yourself understanding the characters a little bit better every time we meet someone new.
Runyon writes characters in a way that makes them believable – flawed, only human. You want to help Bernie just get away from her husband, but you have to watch her throughout the throes of an abusive relationship. And as frustrating as that can be, it’s more true to life that way. The complicated relationships that shape our identities, they’re all written here in Good People for us to see.
Reading between the two points of view of the main characters gives us a unique viewpoint into their lives: Meg’s from her own, a first person account, and Bernie’s from the third person voice. It’s an interesting part of their characterizations. We see Meg’s identity from her own mouth, exactly as she sees herself, maybe differently than others do. And yet we see Bernie almost as an outsider, a comment perhaps on her inability to see herself in the ways she truly is.
Watching Bernie transform from a timid, abused wife into her own person, her own identity, is a great treat for the reader.
People who find the intricate details of identities and the stories of the people around them fascinating will like this novel. Runyon writes interesting and nuanced characters, including LGBTQ characters.
Check out this novel, and Runyon’s other works, at http://www.ej-runyon.com/ and pre order your copy of Good People here: https://www.amazon.com/Good-People-E-J-Runyon/dp/194580503X