Thank you to author NKR and Hugh Mann for providing me with a copy of Claims in exchange for this honest review.
I previously reviewed NKR’s Just One More Day and found her style intoxicating. She has a unique voice that comes from that special place where pain meets imagination. Claims is no exception. You may need to give yourself a few pages to adjust to her style of storytelling but once you find the groove it more than pays off.
NKR writes in a sort of stream of consciousness mixed with the unreliability of true human memory and recall. It is important to know that this book will not give you a straightforward path that leads from beginning to middle to end. You’ll be required to fill in gaps and come to your own conclusions based on what the characters remember and experience. It’s like solving a mystery but you have to assume whatever answer you arrive at is true.
The book alternates between the perspectives of Tillie and Jonathan. Tillie is infantile, immature, naïve, and esoteric. She calls her mom “mommy” despite being college aged and is still obsessed with her stuffed animals. She’s like a manic pixie dream girl if she got that way because of a traumatic head injury.
Jonathan is also somewhat infantile. He has an obsession with his father, papa, and what is slowly revealed as a deeply troubled past. Currently, he is on a mission to impregnate someone. He wants to give a worthy woman his “spermies” so he can have a baby to raise. Why he wants a baby is somewhat of a mystery but the conclusion that I reached is pretty disturbing.
Tillie and Jonathan both struggle with understanding social cues and “normal” behavior. Tillie, however, is the essential opposite of Jonathan. She is always well meaning, looking to have fun, and is a bouncy personality that is seemingly adored by everyone around her. While Jonathan comes off more like a sociopath that consciously makes steps to fit in so that he can do evil without getting caught.
Due to Tillie’s innocent nature she is unknowingly friend-zoning her best friend Kane. He is clearly in love with her but she has no clue. She doesn’t appear to have much interest in sex until a woman named Lisa comes around. They have their first sexual experience together because Tillie feels bad that Lisa is upset and discovers that mirroring her behavior, starting with kissing, seems to calm her down. In order to keep her happy they have oral intercourse and Tillie may not understand what actually happened.
Kane and Tillie will get their chance together by the end of the book as well. The whole time I found myself questioning if these relationships were at all ethical. Tillie is not just a manic pixie dream girl, she may have severe cognitive issues that should be treated by a professional. In my opinion, it is questionable if she can make informed consent regarding sexual activity.
Through Kane we learn a lot more about who Tillie used to be. He reads her diary (without her permission) and we see that she used to speak with more adult language and used to understand normal behavior such as having a crush on a hot boy. She used to be obsessed with Jonathan and wanted nothing more than to date him.
It isn’t until the end of the book that Tillie’s and Jonathan’s past relationship is revealed for what it truly was but it does explain a lot of the events that happened afterwards. It also confirms that I do not think Tillie is well enough to have relationships with other people yet but Kane and Lisa don’t actually respect Tillie or care about that. They only see her as cute and quirky when they should be very worried about her well being.
Claims is a thought provoking novel with original characters and storytelling. It shows how trauma can have an effect on every aspect of a person’s life. Tillie’s entire personality changes, everything about her from the way she speaks, the way she walks, the way she dresses, and who she chooses to bring into her life are affected by her past. And not one person stepped up to help her. People noticed these changes, Kane acknowledges them, but they just ignore her struggles because she’s pretty and they want something from her.
In many ways a traumatized and damaged person is easy to abuse again. Kane and others may not admit this, even to themselves, but they are sacrificing her mental health in order to grant their own desires. At the beginning of Claims I found Tillie pretty obnoxious but once I started to piece together the truth I felt so bad for her. Someone please help her!
NKR has stated that writing is cathartic for her. I am sorry for whatever events led to writing this novel but I hope it helped the healing process.
5/5 stuffed animals 🧸 🧸 🧸 🧸 🧸
If you like Claims you might like Some of Your Blood
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