Raw Intentions
by Sarah Schneider
AuthorHouse UK

"She wanted to be responsible for her own happiness, to be strong enough to overcome moments of weakness and times of irrationality."

Debut novelist Schneider addresses new adult readers in this gripping semi-autobiographical drama. Beset by the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use, casual sex, and the surreal cyberworld of instant messaging and social media, Savannah Jacobs’ naiveté gained from a proverbially idyllic childhood causes her to stumble through her first year at university. Like many youngsters, she loses focus on her studies, drawn instead to the bright lights and posturing of the bar scene and her fantasies of true love. Ultimately, when Savannah seems to have found a measure of experience and equanimity in dealing with her same-sex friendships and her mostly unsatisfactory relationships with young men, her world is marred by tragedy.

The story is not written primarily to showcase Savannah’s sexual encounters as erotica; rather, the unvarnished sexual encounters are a natural component of the evolving tale. Set in an unnamed city on the coast of South Africa, the novelist chooses not to root the story in the local culture and setting but instead to present descriptive scenes that could be universally applied. One would also expect a bit more local color to be evident in the characterizations and in the characters’ lives, but the characters and dialogue are approached in a similar universal mode. The strength in these omissions is that readers may more easily visualize themselves in similar situations in any location.

The writing is strong but sometimes overstated, though the intensity of Savannah’s emotions and her overthinking during challenging situations is conveyed well through this technique. Savannah’s struggles with depression are mentioned in early chapters but not consistently touched upon later in the story. Her psychological tendency undoubtedly fuels her perceptions, her strong need for acceptance, and her sometimes questionable decisions. All in all, this novel realistically deals with many issues of interest to young women.

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