To be effortless is to achieve one’s dreams with very minimal work. Everyone in life longs to be effortless so that they can do anything they want to do, be anyone they dream to be, and go anywhere they please without so much as lifting a finger. To be effortless means happiness, doesn’t it? To be effortless means no more trials and tribulations in life… right? Author Marina Raydun has given readers an enjoyable and truthful story about striving for a perfect life, but discovering how difficult the road can be to get there in Effortless.
Teaching history at a school for talented and gifted young individuals of the arts, Helen Levit wishes to live her life effortlessly. Everyone around her at the school, both her younger students and the other teachers, all seem to have their lives together, so at the age of 28, why does she feel like hers is not? Trying to free herself from a toxic engagement and a life that is most certainly not what she dreamed it would be, the perfect opportunity arises to escape and possibly create a new future – an opportunity that takes her halfway across the world with a man she has admired since the first time she laid eyes on him. The future, however, is not as bright as it first appeared when she discovers brutally honest truths about not only herself, but also from the people she thought she had always known.
Readers should not think they are picking up an ordinary love story for Raydun has delved much deeper than that in the first of her Effortless duology. Using well-crafted storytelling and a beautifully flowing and witty writing style, Raydun has delivered a story through the eyes of her main female protagonist about wanting more of what life has to offer. Sure, everyone strives to find love in life, but what about everything else there is in life? What about finding one’s dream job? What about forming relationships with new people and strengthening ongoing relationships with family and old friends? What about wanting more in life, but unsure of how to get it all? What about finding one’s place in said life? These thoughts run through everyone’s minds all the time which is what will most likely make readers fall in love with Helen.
Helen is an incredibly likeable character and, at the same time, so frustratingly realistic and relatable it can be daunting. She is a 28 year old who feels like she has life figured out, but has made some not so wise decisions and must find a way to start her life anew. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? While there are times it is frustrating to read what Helen has chosen to do, what is daunting is that readers have, most likely, made similar choices in their own lives, as well. Who hasn’t made poor choices in their lives in their twenties? It is a rough age group and it is for this very reason why Helen is such a well-written and complex character.
The handful of other characters readers follow are just as well-developed and complex as Helen. Jamie Sola is the teacher Helen has admired from a distance and seems perfect on the outside, though he proves to have many hidden secrets inside. George, Helen’s clingy fiancé, doesn’t seem to know what he wants in life either, but makes no effort to try to change his life around for either him or Helen. Javier is a man from Spain who Helen met while traveling and serves as somewhat of a rock for Helen when things go bad in life. Even the students have complex stories, demonstrating how they are there for their talents, but maybe they wish to do something else for the rest of their lives than just the arts. These students also rely and lean on Helen for she provides a comfort to them even though she doesn’t see it in herself.
In all honesty, Raydun does what not many authors do nowadays and what she does is a rather refreshing breath of fresh air: through Helen, Raydun puts a mirror up in front of the reader’s face. What does this mirror show? Perhaps we as the readers believe our whole lives are figured out, yet we cannot fathom why the bad continues to happen. Perhaps we know that we have made bad choices in our lives, yet don’t know how to make things right or are in denial and believe nothing needs to be done to make things right. Maybe we are stuck in a rut and have no idea how to move forward and start a new chapter in our lives. This mirror can be terrifying to look at, but Raydun has also shown that no one is stuck where they are and that change can always come to make life better if you are open to make that change.
Focusing on life, making mistakes, and starting anew, Effortless is a story that delves deeper than just an average love story ever would. Raydun has impressed with the first in her duology and has created a memorable story through the eyes of an equally memorable character. Readers are in for a story that delves deep into the thoughts of an everyday woman in her late twenties dreaming of a life not her own and just trying to figure out where she wants her life to go. Readers may find themselves relating closely to Helen, but Raydun encourages through her protagonist that it is never too late to start over and change one’s life around. To be effortless in life is impossible, but it is not impossible to obtain the life one longs for. All it takes is a bit of effort to get there.