Steven Camden’s Tape is a narration between time. A daughter rummages through her mother’s room and chances upon a completely different side of her parents that was yet unknown to her. The story follows Ameliah and how she discovers the untold love story of her parents. Traveling back to an era gone by, understanding her parents much more than she ever could; Ameliah learns how she came to being all through the narrations of a Tape. It is often said that sometimes even though the loved ones perish, their memories reside forever. Camden makes sure to freeze memories in a Tape in order to drive ahead the storyline. The story was published some five-six years ago, and in all honesty that an author could so beautifully play with an object deemed to be obsolete in the modern world is commendable.
Child Psychology at Play
Camden is quite successful in capturing the essence of child psychology. No matter which decade or era we talk about, the thought process of a child remains significant. While Ameliah tries her level best to dig out information about her parents from an unknown friend of her fathers’ who suddenly rings her doorbell one fine day; she is also often seen keeping herself in her mother’s shoes with respect to the choice of songs, playing the guitar and through many habitual similarities. This only suggests that she is frequently reminded of her mother with whom she could spend only very little time. Quite similarly the voice on the Tape is torn between the records he made for his lost mother and a final parting gift he wants to make for his beloved. Entering the teen years throws a child into a vortex of emotions and feelings that he/she had been thus unaware of, and this vortex is further aggravated by relationships.
The Web called Relationship
Much that one thinks it’s easier for a child to adjust to newer situations than an adult, it is often forgotten that a child’s mind and heart are more delicate than that of an adult’s. It is difficult to imbibe shocks as a child than it is to do the same when one is older. The author brings Ameliah and the voice on the Tape a notch closer through the shared bonding over personal loss. While Ameliah loses her parents and moves in with her grandmother, the voice upon the loss of his mother has to adjust to a step-mum and step-brother. For a child it is difficult to give the place of a parent to a new individual, not counting the step-sibling rivalry which automatically falls into place. Camden plays with relationships through many layers in the story. It is interesting to note that every individual has grey areas instead of complete black and white.
The Emotion-Coaster Ride
Tape is an emotionally draining story. What might seem like a straight forward narration of a story through a time portal, manages to take every reader on an emotional roller coaster ride. Uncovering one’s past is not easy and sometimes one ends up questioning and judging the actions of the people. Whether it is Ameliah, her grand-mother, the voice, all have a past and an emotional aim in life. But what is interesting is the final twist in the tale which defies all rationale of love and brotherhood and raises an underestimated character to one of the most respectful of all.
A Story conjured in an Alternate Reality
Tape is nothing short of fairy tale love story conjured in an alternate reality. Reading the complete story is bound to spring mixed responses. While some might discard the entire concept as illogical, some might grace it with an understanding that the novel is a work of fiction. But nevertheless, if the pages of a book fail to instill in me an alternate reality with experiences and situations which are usually unheard of but might have a 1% probability of occurring in the universe; the book is a winner already!
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
No. of Pages: 363