‘Double vision’ in ‘Make Your Home Among Strangers’

In her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers, Jennine CapĆ³ Crucet presents a young woman protagonist who is developing a sense of self.

She perceives herself as relatively accomplished, as, while teen pregnancies seem to be the norm in her family and high school graduation is the bar to meet, she unexpectedly lands and accepts a spot at an elite private university. On the other hand, she feels that she has somehow betrayed her family by moving away (because they tell her so), and, because of her Cuban heritage, she is treated differently than the rest of the majority-white student body. Home and school are alternatingly appealing, but neither is perfectly safe, and neither is exactly what she wants.

It’s a choice between what feels most “authentic” despite knowing that all choices are engineered anyway, that outcomes are not predictable, and that everything has a price. It isn’t a resolvable problem, as those of us of a certain age have already found out.

The protagonist becomes increasingly self-conscious about how people perceive her. She can’t control what they see, in part because she hasn’t yet decided what image she wants to project or whether she should have to go to the effort of projecting an image at all. Near the book’s final pages, she introduces the term “double vision” for this: one part of her is living her life while another part is sitting aside, detached, evaluating and criticizing herself from a distance in anticipation of what others will say.

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