Fellow Unwritten writer Amira Selimovic has written and published a book titled “As I Live Dying.” It tells the story of a woman named Xyla who breaks away from her toxic family and makes a life for herself in New York City.
Honestly, I have very mixed feelings about the book. Some parts (especially the ones about the narrator’s family) felt ripped right out of my own brain. The book also has some incredible quotes.
The emotions are so real and raw. The story also carries some important messages about mental health and self-worth.
In fact, it felt so real that I wasn’t sure if it was a fiction book or memoir until the very end — which was both a good and bad thing.
There are so many little quirks that Xyla has that make her seem like a real person. First of all, she hates using names (which is where a lot of the memoir confusion came from since you don’t find out her name until the very end).
Xyla’s definitely an old soul with self-destructive tendencies.
The book is filled with long musings about her inner philosophies. And even though there were definitely some thoughts I didn’t agree with, I didn’t mind because she felt like a real person with a right to her own opinions. There also were some really mind-boggling plot twists at the end. I enjoyed them because they’re the kind of plot twists that change the way you view a book upon rereading it.
However, a lot of the book’s elements I liked were double-edged swords.
Xyla not using anyone’s names until the end of the book caused a lot of confusion while reading. Initially, I thought she wasn’t using her name because it was a memoir, so you can just find her name in the title of the book.
Also, the long musings mixed with sudden plot twists make the pacing of this book quite jarring at times.
For example, there’s a chapter dedicated just to the items Xyla brought to New York with her, accompanied by long descriptions of her favorite records. Later, other events that hold much more plot and theme weight get as much attention as that chapter.
While I liked how rich Xyla’s inner world was, I wish her outer world had the same amount of detail. And maybe that was one of the points that Selimovic was trying to make in her book — but it didn’t come across as intentional, at least in my opinion.
The book has some grammar and spacing errors, which is expected since it started as a school project. Writing a novel can’t be easy, so it’s not too hard to look past.
Overall, I still consider “As I Live Dying” to be an interesting and insightful read. If you love internal musings and can get past a little initial confusion, this is definitely a worthwhile read.