As the nation struggled to determine what Indonesia should look like during Reformasi and beyond, these two characters were also struggling to determine what they wanted to be. More than just a love story, this novel is very smart with a very interesting structure, going back and forth in time and mixing epistolary form of emails and text messages with chronological narration.
Love, freedom, and identity are all connected. If we have freed ourselves from a repressive regime, from unfair social norms, can we be free to be who we are? Can we break free from our own fears, from our own past? Are we free to choose what kind of person we want to be?
My characters and I grew up under the New Order, which enforced uniformity. Just as they were graduating college and it was time for them to enter the real world, there were all these new freedoms. Now they could be different, they didn’t have to fear censorship or persecution anymore. But as the euphoria passed, they realized there was still a lot of challenges, and they still had to face their own fears and self-destructive habits. By drawing parallels between my character’s endeavors to realize themselves and Indonesia’s efforts towards democracy, I want to write a story about how to break free and be loved for who you are.
As democratic reforms swept Indonesia in the late nineties, the nation’s young generation asked themselves: what does it mean to be free? This novel is a compelling study of freedom and love, community and conformity, told with humour, sensuality and a subtly sharp political intelligence.