Number of pages: 462
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 2.5
I read this book for my English class thinking I would be able to relate to it and exploit my pain for marks. I did end up relating to Elaine, but only for the first third of the book.
Ignore the blurb, because what this book is truly about is mental illness. It showcases how the views of society in the 20th century taught people to avoid getting help for their mental illnesses. This especially affects Elaine in her adult life.
Cat’s Eye switches for Elaine looking back on her life form childhood into early adulthood, to her perspective in her adult life. This irked me. There would be ten chapters with Elaine being 9 years old, then one chapter with Elaine being an adult, and then it would go back to her childhood. These switches didn’t really seem make any sense whatsoever, especially since it takes a few pages to figure out how old Elaine is in whatever chapter you’re reading. Also, the book was split into multiple (I believe there were 15) parts, but there didn’t seem to be any reason for splitting the book into these sections. The structure of this book was off.
Elaine is really mentally ill. I am fairly certain that she has depression, and I believe that she has schizophrenia. Having depression myself, I believe that Elaine’s depression is portrayed fairly accurately. In regards to the possibility that she has schizophrenia, however, I can only diagnose her from reading symptoms online, but she seems to fit all of the symptoms (I’m really not an expert or trained medical professional, so take this with a grain of salt).
As a result of what I’m calling Elaine’s schizophrenia, it was difficult to like her as a character. She is detached in her relationships, and her thoughts are often disjointed and violent. At one point, she has sex with her ex-husband, cheating on her current husband, but she brushes it off as not counting as cheating. It feels incredibly morally wrong to like a person who thinks that is okay, but I understand that if she has a mental illness, she can’t really control it.
Having now read a Margaret Atwood novel, I’m not sure I see the appeal. I guess she does a good job on the accuracy with which she portrays a mentally ill woman, but this book certainly wasn’t spectacular.
Overall, I think the only reason to read Cat’s Eye is for its accurate portrayal of mental illness, earning it 2.5 out of 5 stars. My opinion may be slightly skewed, as I had to dissect it for English class, but it simply didn’t meet my expectations.