The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap is a beautifully told romantic, mature coming-of-age story with a touch of darkness and thrill. I was helplessly swept away by this novel, finishing it in less than 24 hours, needing to know how Nova and Kate were going to end up and how they would fight through the hardships life had offered them all while learning to love each other. The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap was published yesterday by HarperCollins.
The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap follows the lives of two adult women as their paths are altered forever and they edge closer to one another. Kate is a seemingly happily married woman to Tony, who wants to have children with her, but may not be as perfect a husband as he seems. Nova is a woman who has been blind since birth, now offered the chance to see for the very first time. When Kate is abused by her husband, she leaves and Nova is the only person she wants in her life to protect her. The journey told in this novel is one of learning to see physically, and dealing with the mental implications of this newfound skill, whilst also concerning the way things are seen. As Kate realises that the view of her perfect marriage is falling apart, she too learns to see things anew with Nova, as they fall tenderly and slowly in love. Not without their trials and tribulations, Kate and Nova’s love story is not as smooth as could be, and I was left rooting for them until the very end.
Why I love this book…
I love The Rules of Seeing because it is such a pleasure to read. Heap does not force any aspect of it; it is as though he has spent a lot of time with each character in the novel and knows just how they would react to things, which makes them come across as very real and sympathetic. The storytelling element of this book is seamless, with the events of the novel happening in an almost transcendent way, with acts of violence crashing into the pages and jarring me out of my reading contentedness. Every aspect of this book comes across as extremely lifelike and mature, with no elements suggesting that these characters needed further author development or any more aspects of their personality; Heap knows them inside and out.
The love story Heap tells is absolutely perfect, because it is riddled with issues and stumbling over each other, saying the wrong thing and nervous texting; it is like the start of a real relationship. I loved how patient and understanding Nova is with Kate the entire time, knowing that she might not even get the romantic connection she is after, but just being a great friend regardless. I think anybody who reads this book will breathe a sigh of relief when the moment passes, however, as it is timed perfectly, just as Kate is working through her trauma and Nova’s eyesight is becoming more independent. It is as though they both assist each other in their moments of clarity, and I love the gentleness of their passion. They are clearly both surprised that this has managed to happen, and both at times think it is too good to be true.
I spent so much of this novel in awe at the way Heap describes Nova’s rules and how she learns to see for the first time. It offers such a great perspective for somebody who has always been able to see, as you learn how difficult concepts such as colour, depth and transparency are to understand. I really enjoyed the educational aspects of this book just as much as the dramatic and romantic elements, which really made this novel special for me. I adore the fact that this book can tackle prejudice of both gay relationships and disabilities.
My only slight niggle with this novel, which only bothered me a little, is that I don’t understand Tony’s intentions. Following the first beating, I expected to find out more about his illegal doings, which were only hinted at and never confirmed. I was unsure as to why he couldn’t just leave Kate alone, so maybe this is the only character I felt could have used more development. I know that he is the villain, but it was never revealed why he was behaving that way, so perhaps a flashback to an anger therapy class, or illegal doings from his teenage years could have shed light on his behaviour. Aside from this, he was the perfect villain whom I absolutely detested.
Overall, I think that The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap is one of the most fantastic novels in 2018. It offers an incredible perspective into how a blind person would learn to see for the first time, which has altered my way of looking at things, and I have respect for anybody who undergoes that surgery in their lives. I would recommend this book to so many people, as I think that people need to start viewing relationships and love the way that Joe Heap describes them. I would recommend to readers of literary, romantic and dramatic fiction. Thank you so much to Felicity Denham at Harper Collins for my advance proof copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. I give it a full 5 stars!!!