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A Stranger Like You: A Novel

A book by Elizabeth Brundage

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The major shifts in context require some thought, but they do not diminish the story

  • Jun 29, 2010
Aspiring screenwriters are everywhere in the Los Angeles area and the competition is fierce and unyielding. In his real life, Hugh Waters is in a relationship that is a marriage only in the legal sense and he holds an uninteresting day job with an insurance company. His movie script is his supposed ticket away from this insignificant existence and an agent of Gladiator Films purchased it. However, before the movie could be produced, that agent died and hard-nosed Hedda Chase reads the script and cancels the production. The primary reason is that she finds the ending, where the victim is kidnapped and bound, locked in the trunk of her car and the car parked at LAX airport completely unrealistic.
On the edge of reality, Waters flies to LA, confronts Chase in her home and then carries out his ending by locking her in the trunk, parking the car at LAX and leaving the keys in the ignition and the parking stub on the dash. Walking away from the car, Waters decides to let things happen they way they will although he does have one moment of weakness where he almost goes back and releases her.
A wounded veteran of the Iraq war (Denny) that is accompanied by a sixteen-year-old abuse victim that is a runaway steals the car, although they do not know that Chase is in the trunk. Denny is a major sufferer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), some of which was inflicted by his buddies, executors of a gang rape on a teenage Iraqi girl. Denny did not participate in the rape and they threatened to kill him if he ever spoke out. Despite his physical and mental wounds, Denny is fundamentally a decent man although it quickly becomes clear that he will be lucky to survive the story.
The storyline begins with the abduction of Chase and then goes back in time to give some background on her life. Hiding her loneliness behind an aggressive nature, Chase is not altogether a sympathetic figure. There are times when it is easy to get lost when there is a major shift in the context of the story, but the author ties all of it together at the end. None of the characters is particularly easy to identify with; all have some major faults with complete sanity often being absent.
Despite the major shifts in the direction, the book kept my attention, while I didn't identify with any of the characters, there were times when I was deeply sympathetic, especially when there was a discussion about Fatima. She was an Iraqi girl that told the truth about how women are treated in strict Islamic societies and paid the price for it.

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More A Stranger Like You: A Novel reviews
review by . October 11, 2010
A character study wrapped in a thriller
Elizabeth Brundage has written a captivating novel that is driven by both plot and great characters. Nothing is simple in A Stranger Like You. Characters that at first appear self-centered and unlikable turn out to be heroic to some degree, while those who initially seemed sympathetic end up deserving their awful fates. This nuance gives the novel more substance than the usual thriller while still offering enough action to keep readers turning the pages.      One of the characters …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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"'People are ugly and cruel. They are relentless. They will stop at nothing to get what they want.'" LikeThe Player, A Stranger Like Youtests this hard-boiled lemma against the beautiful, nasty backdrop of Hollywood. Elizabeth Brundage delivers a pithy, ironic L.A. noir full of broken dreams and snappy repartee."
-Stewart O'Nan, author ofSongs for the Missing

"Elizabeth Brundage is the real thing-an ambitious, serious novelist. Not for her, small bites. She uses Dickensian coincidence and the Russians' sense of tragic destiny, all while observing modern life with a biting acuity and a throwaway hipness-and she dares you to care for characters whose self-contempt, earnest longings, and sad ingratiation are uncomfortably unalloyed. Brundage imbues Hollywood with a mystical super-reality, and scrubs it of anything stock. I couldn't stop turning the pages of this action-packed, poetic, large-souled novel. And I closed it with a pounding heart."
-Sheila Weller, bestselling author ofGirls Like Us

"A Stranger Like Youis a disturbingly believable thriller that catches you in a spider web of blind ambition, karma, and cinema dreams. Elizabeth Brundage perfectly captures the laid-back perniciousness of L.A. and the dark heart of the movie biz. It's a 21st-century 'noir' that takes you on a journey that leaves you fearful for yourself. Brundage is a singular talent."
-Dirk Wittenborn, author of Pharmakon, orThe Story ...
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ISBN-10: 0670022004
ISBN-13: 978-0670022007
Author: Elizabeth Brundage
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Viking Adult
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