Novels written in the second person are few and far between. JUST LIKE AN EMAIL IN ALL CAPS; second person novels are hard to write and hard to read. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida is an exception to the rule. The second person point of view plunges the reader into the action, in the heart of a vacation gone back in Morocco, and the novel works.
When you find your seat you glance at the businessman sitting next to you and decide he’s almost handsome.
From the first sentence, Vida makes the reader uncomfortable, forcing the reader to rationalize the beginning of what is clearly a poor decision. The plot spirals down quickly from there, with lost luggage, lost identity, and just general loss in the middle east, as the unnamed main character, a young American woman on a trip to recover from “the horror of the last two months.”
The Diver’s Clothes Like Empty should be pure pain, but it somehow works. Although the main character makes one bad decision after another, she is still quite likable, and the mystery of what got her to Morocco in the first place kept me hooked. The setting and plot are arresting as well, not only giving glimpses of the soukhs of Casablanca but other unexpected settings like a movie set.
The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty is a quick read, one that will make you cringe, but one that you will not be able to put down. In the end, all will be revealed, and you will feel as if you have grown, right along with the main character, in the second person.