“Illusion” was written by a friend of a friend, and the beautiful young girl on the cover is my friend, T’s, daughter. T knows I love to read and then write about what I read, so one week not that long ago she loaned me her copy to read and review.
It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. It reads like an autobiography but is actually a work of Christian fiction based on the author Erin Hicks’ experiences with loss and depression. A few chapters in, I sent a text to T asking if the book really was fiction or was it based on a true story. The first-person voice seemed extremely authentic; I felt like I was reading a true experience, told with the depth and sincerity that only someone who has been there could talk about. Hicks writes in her author notes that the story is fictional but based on some of her own experiences with themes of loss, death and depression.
The book’s title comes from the “illusion” created by main character Rylei Cabot in her attempt to hide her depression and pain after she loses her sister in a tragic car accident. Cabot has a crisis of faith and self that ultimately affects her relationships and her career in such a way that she is forced to confront her issues.
The story also deals with issues of drug and alcohol abuse and attempted suicide.
Hicks is a Mississippi native currently working on her Masters of Divinity and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. “I wrote this book after having numerous youth, and adults, ask me how I get through difficult times in my life,” Hicks writes. “This is my answer for them, in narrative form, about how hope can be found even in the darkest of places at times. My goal with this book, as with any writing, is to bless the reader.”
The short: Hicks impressively uses a fictional story to share authentic and powerful insight into very real issues that secretly plague many people.