I think it's fairly safe to say that all of us, whether we truly realise it or not, have that one person in our lives who stands out. Someone who perhaps isn't as comfortable in social situations, who dresses differently to everyone around them - you know who I mean, right?
Such an individual is the subject of Anna North's book The Life And Death Of Sophie Stark. She, even just a few pages in, comes across as an outsider - someone I can personally identify with in that sense - and the book delves into who she is, how she lives her life and how she interacts with the few people who get close enough to have her open up to them.
However, what might have started out hoping to be a captivating portrait of an artist in mental and emotional turmoil, due to several of Stark's close friends telling her story, it soon becomes something rather overwhelming.
The pressures of film-making and the idea of putting your own unique stamp on your work while being a part of such a difficult industry isn't an unfamiliar issue, certainly in recent years, but one of the few things that interested me while making my way through this book is how and why Stark chooses to undertake such a career.
Even from an early age and as she makes her way through life, she is described, at times in striking detail, as rather a loner and an outsider, someone fascinated more by watching and capturing people on film than being an individual who is filmed.
Her focus on other people, most notably when making her films, appears to shroud those around her from the turmoil she, by the books end, has evidently been struggling with for some time, and that really affected me.
As as victim of bullying who kept my pain hidden from my nearest and dearest for a long time, the key points for me in this book were the instances where, just for a second, North makes the reader feel as if Stark will finally be truly honest - not just with herself, but with others. It is only however in the closing chapters that such happens, and not in the way anyone would hope for.
Instead, *SPOILER* her friends and acquaintances become the only people who can share her story, her struggles and her achievements with one another and the world, and that left me with a lingering final thought; when I'm long gone - what will my loved ones remember me for?
Sophie Stark isn't the easiest of reads, nor is it the best book I've read in recent months. However, with that said, it got me thinking about and reflecting on my own life. For an author such as Anna North, I like to think that's a positive thing.
The Life And Death Of Sophie Stark is available now on Amazon and from all good bookshops.