Katerina by James Frey | ARC Review

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Pages: 320
Publication: Gallery/Scout Press
Release date: September 11, 2018
How I got the copy: Simon & Schuster Canada
Rating: 3/5

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book since the controversy from James Frey’s previous work, which I honestly haven’t read and don’t know much about, but I decided to read this one anyway. The synopsis sounded interesting, the book is mostly set in France, and I was intrigued.

While reading Katerina, and already knowing the fictional story is inspired by Frey’s true life events, I still had a hard time distinguishing between if I was reading about a fictional character or the author. I translated this story and the main character, Jay, as Frey’s life completely. I had to remind myself again and again that Jay isn’t really Frey but a fictionalized character inspired by Frey and some of the same events that happened to him.

Katerina echoes and complements that most controversial of memoirs, and plays with the same issues of fiction and reality that created, nearly destroyed, and then recreated James Frey in the American imagination.
— Katerina, Synopsis

This book took me through an emotional roller coaster. I can relate to Jay in the way of not wanting to live such a conventional life, full of restrictions, which requires so much risk and ridicule at times. I would have loved to experience life in the 90’s when such a small amount of money went a long way unlike today. In ways, I find this book inspiring as a story and as part reality from the authors experience.

I enjoyed being able to picture all the places mentioned in Paris and the atmosphere Frey painted throughout the book but it emotionally and mentally destroyed me. It destroyed me in the way that the story is so real and honest to me. Jay is also inspiring as he persevered achieving his dreams and struggling with what that meant throughout his journey but also afterwards.

The first quarter of the book was more enjoyable to me but after that point I found the book repetitive and lost interested at a certain point but that could have also been because the book put me through so much. It’s weird to say that but it’s true. Katerina achieves its goal to make you think about life and how you’re living it but I don’t think everyone will see it that way. I think this will mostly speak to the free-spirits, artists, and unconventional dreamers the most.

I should also mention Katerina is written in a mysterious sense that jumps from different timelines in the characters life and is written in an unconventional writing style. I read it as poetic at times and completely resonated with the author/main character to write the way it feels right to you not always following the rules.

I sat on writing my review for this book for a long time. Over a month! I needed time to think about it and to understand all the feelings I got from it. It’s really hard for me to rate this one. It’s definitely an inspiring book and made me feel so much but somewhere in the middle I didn’t care for the entire story and only cared about Jay’s personal journey. I clearly have complicated feelings about Katerina.


*A copy of this book was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review*

fictionAlexa PereiraComment