Luke, the protagonist of Blind Spot, is torn from his mundane life in Vancouver, British Columbia when his parents’ car is hit by a train near Edmonton, Alberta. Luke leaves his girlfriend (who is presented to the reader as a needy young woman whose main goal in life is to keep up with the proverbial Jones’) and returns to his childhood home in Edmonton to assist his sister in tending to funeral arrangements and preparing their childhood house for resale. At first, it’s hard not to sympathize with Luke who has never had a relationship with his overbearing parents or with his frumpy, overly-emotional sister. But then, as the book progresses, it becomes apparent that Luke’s negativity and life-long teenage angst have adversely effected all of his relationships. Miall crafts a story that takes his readers down a road of solitude, speckled by brief moments of hope that the protagonist will emotionally mature and understand that he himself retains the ability to make the choice to be happy and to be in healthy relationships.
Blind Spot is by no means a feel-good, escapist read after a hard day at work or school. Luke’s inability to take responsibility for his own actions will frustrate many readers. However, if you are able to contend with these frustrations, Miall’s protagonist perfectly depicts a man in an existential crisis. Luke actively chooses to be unhappy, and remains unhappy through his unwillingness to take positive action. This book is a glimpse of how one man can populate his life with blame and angst, imparting on readers that we individually create meaning and actively choose the direction that our lives will take.
This existential plot line mainly exists in the Old Strathcona region of Edmonton, Alberta. Miall takes his characters on noisy dates at the Sugar Bowl, awkward parties at the Black Dog, and introspective walks along Saskatchewan Drive. These vibrant locations starkly contrast with Luke’s pessimism, providing readers with an enhanced understanding of the extent of Luke’s negativity. Edmontonians will be able to easily place themselves into the setting of this book, but may feel an uncomfortable unfamiliarity with the emotions that these places invoke. After all, who could possibly manage to feel bubbling rage during a calm walk along Saskatchewan Drive?
Overall, Blind Spot successfully exposes the mind of a warped individual and challenges his readers to understand his beautifully terrible anti-hero. All of this takes place against the familiar backdrop of our home, Edmonton. Blind Spot is Laurence Miall’s début novel and has quickly gained appreciation amongst local readers, rising to number one on the Edmonton Journal’s Best Seller list.
Banner courtesy of Wanderer Design Editor Janelle Holod, cover art courtesy of NeWest Press.