Book review: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi

Just finished reading an amazing book. Chasing Shadows deals with loss, revenge, friendship as well as a practice I have never heard of freerunning.

Frerunning is a personal development practice where. “one should express oneself by moving fluidly in one’s environment; there are no limitations on the form of this movement.” From the wickapedia article on freerunning the only thing I could find.

The definition here doesn’t do any justice to the descriptions in the book. It’s like gymnastics but on rooftops, over fences, off of buildings. Jumping from roof to roof, doing backflips ETC. Beyond the external tricks it seems an internal form of personal growth like martial arts or yoga. Using their mind to conquer their fears to “see their way to safety.” To see how their landing is gonna happen for example before they do it. They often use phraises like”never let fear rule.” And “pain gives you strength.” So that these acrobatics are really a form of internal self growth pushing your physical and emotional limets. Just reading the descriptions of freerunning and the philosophy that gives the characters strength throughout the book makes it worth it.

The book starts with Savitri Corey and Holly who are twins doing freerunning. I also like that this book is set in Chicago which now that I’ve been here a few years some of the landmarks sound familiar. After freerunning Holly and Corey drive home with Sav following. Out of nowhere they are shot in their car. Corey dies instantly and Holly is shot in the head.

Sav is the only witness. The twin’s father is a police officer and this devastates the family even more than it would others because it is found that the shooter sought out Corey on purpose as a cop’s kid to get revenge and prove himself to a gang.

The next months are traumatic for everyone. Holly is in a deep coma which she finally comes out of a week later. She is changed as you would expect. A favorite comic of the friends is called The Lepoardess which is where Sav got her name.

A woman agrees to marry her husband even though a fortuneteller says he only has a year to live. When he dies she follows him into death and is granted a wish. She wishes for her father in law to be able to see his grandson be born. The biggest part of the story that sticks with Holly is the following the person who died. In the coma she felt she’d followed Corey into “the shadowlands” but couldn’t get him back.

Sav has to contend with going back to school and the hyperviglance caused by her own trauma response. She tentatively reconnects with Holly’s old boyfriend. Meanwhile Holly is obsessed with finding the killer freerunning becomes a chase around the city for him. Holly and Sav are so in tune to a person’s movements rather than face or any other quality that they zone in on that and are able to find the killer.

But this isn’t enough. More and More Holly goes into her own world unresponsive to what’s around her. It seems not even Sav can reach her. When she drugs coke that she gives to Sav in order to kill her so that Sav can bring Corey back everything unravels. Holly has to face mental illness. Sav has to face how their friendship has impacted her choices and personal development and chart a new course for herself. At the book’s end the characters are realistically where they should be. Changed, in pain, entering a new stage in their lives about letting go facing reality, internal strength and conquering fears.

Below is the article on freerunning. If anyone knows about this sport and yes it’s labeled a sport though I see it more as a personal growth practice, I’d love to know your thoughts.

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