24 April 2005

I Believe You - Low Kay Hwa

I chanced upon this short story on the web by Low Kay Hwa.

All in all, I thought that it was an excellent effort on the part of this young lad.

Like I said in my email to him,

"I would describe it as a raw gem. Unpolished but nonethelss possesses the potential of turning into a precious stone."

While I am tempted to give a low-down on what this story is all about, I think that it would be better if you would go over to and read it for yourself. 20 chapters in all and so I would advise finding a comfortable place, do your toilet thing beforehand, grab a cold soda and get a big bowl of chips. You are going to need it, cause there will be no intermission during this performance. Switch off all handphones and pagers, please. Thank you.

This is where I will be sharing my after thoughts about it. Perhaps you should finish reading the story before returning?

No? Ok, let's begin.

I am a sucker for stories with a local school setting. Anyone remember Teenage Textbook? Ahh.... memories of my teen-hood.

Reading it takes you down memory lane as the Kay Hwa does a good job setting up the scenes. The building of Joanna's character was good right from the start. So was the protrayal of Grandma and best friend, Landy. However, when it comes to the opposite character Jacky, I felt that Kay Hwa came somewhat short. For an important character like Jacky, I think it deserved a bit more.

"Jacky wants to help Joanna" and I find myself asking why? Unfortunately, this was a question mark left unattended. Perhaps an answer to that would have given me a clearer picture of this Jacky character.

Da Vinci Code
One of the clues that this story was written recently (fresh from the oven!) was the mention of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code". The inspired Kay Hwa borrowed a leaf from Brown to include his own code via a series of mobile phone SMS messages from Jacky to Joanna. Problem is, that there was no solution at the end. A discussion with Kay Hwa on this and he said that it was for the readers to try to break the code themselves. I disagree. I would prefer to have the solution towards that end so that the readers are able to try it for themselves along the way and if, the reader is unable to decode it, then the solution will come at the right time, serving the right purpose. It would be naive to simply assume that every reader would be able to decode the messages. I mean, what if the reader is unable to? Wouldn't that cause the reader to lose an important part of the story?

Forgive me, if I just called the author naive. It is just that the reader deserves the 100% that the author originally intended to offer.

The Ending
It was abrupt at best. Kay Hwa said that it was meant to be an open ending, giving the readers to think about their own conclusion. Again, I disagree. There was no ending. It was left opened. Leaving it like that akin to painting a fabulous masterpiece only to let someone else put the final signature on it.

Anyway, since this was done on the web, I suggested perhaps the author could offer 2 different endings, given that there could be 2 different outcomes for Jacky? Put them in separate links and let the readers decide the ending ala the classic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series.

Minor Stuff
I would be nitpicking if I were to mention the typos and mistakes throughout the story. For a first draft, I say that it is a common thing and I urge all readers to look beyond them and try to appreciate what the author originally intended to write.

Another point that I am confused is that Jacky died in Chapter 18 and yet in the next chapter, Jacky was on a glucose drip? Now why would a dead guy need to be on a glucose drip? I am sure that was not what Kay Hwa intended but whatever it was supposed to be, I didn't get it. Sorry, Kay Hwa but you need to help me out on this.

Conclusion (His. Mine Not Yet)
More of a postscript than an actual ending to the story where the author briefly introduces the aspect of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). His description, during the course of the story, of the psychiatric sessions and write-up at the end of OCD, appeared to be fairly credible. I can't say for sure since I don't know enough. Perhaps it was drawn from the author's first-hand account?

Conclusion (Mine. Not His)
I would say that it was a good read with minor kinks here and there. Let's hope to see more of Kay Hwa's effort soon. Please do take the time to go over and read it. At the end of it, perhaps leave a note to Kay Hwa? I believe the chap deserves a pat on the back for a good effort.

And by the way, I managed to decode the hidden messages within the SMSes. *relief*

Image Credit:
- Voxeros

1. a reader left...
Monday, 25 April 2005 5:59 pm
i read this just now

my take is either the joanna is dreaming about all this on the bus. or the jacky managed to wake up and requested for the peeled apple.

what stopped me from tearing up was the names. jacky wu and joanna fung. i nearly hooted but stopped due to the development of the story.

2. JayWalk left...
Monday, 25 April 2005 11:16 pm
Yeah. I agree with you. The characters' name are kinda tacky.

However, bear in mind that this is just a draft. The final work of the editor is still to be done.

p.s. I think perhaps this story would be better if written in Chinese rather than English. What do you think?

3. kIm left...
Thursday, 5 January 2006 1:29 am
I know I'm so late. Haha.

JACKY DIED?!?!!? Oh boy. So my tears werent wasted. I still want to read the book!!!! I have this love-hate relationship with Singapore love stories. The female or male lead will always die. And I would end up crying and wiping off my tears with half a box of tissue paper. Yet I cant resist reading them. Sigh.
4. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 5 January 2006 1:36 am :: 
kIm: Wah... so late still haven't sleep har?

sigh... you are such a sucker for the melodramatics. :P
5. Airseft left...
Friday, 8 August 2008 3:03 pm
Hey, may I know what is the hidden message? I can't figure it out at all. ):
6. JayWalk left...
Friday, 8 August 2008 3:27 pm :: 
airseft: Welcome to the blog. Take the first letter of each sms to form the secret message.
7. Jeff left...
Sunday, 17 August 2008 1:35 am ::
It's the first capital word in the sentence. Join it together, and you'll get I love you , LOL
8. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 17 August 2008 9:36 am ::
Jeff: Yup. That's it.
9. Joleen left...
Thursday, 4 December 2008 11:15 pm
did you buy the book and read it?
10. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 4 December 2008 11:52 pm ::
Joleen: The book wasn't printed when I read it. It was a long time ago. I read the draft copy they Kay Wah put on the web.
11. Ray left...
Monday, 15 December 2008 10:41 pm
I read the book and at the end of it, there was another message to decode. Till now, I have no idea whats the answer. The answer would "complete" a side part of the story. I hope anyone who knows the answer to that SECOND message given by Jacky to email me the answer. My email is
12. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 10:22 pm ::
Ray: You know, it's been almost 4 years since I read the book and mind you, the one I read was a draft. How the finished product differs from the original draft, I do not know.

To be honest, my version didn't have the second message. Sorry. Can't help you there. If you can email me the second one, I may have an inkling to know how to solve it.
13. Sage left...
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 2:57 am
I read the book also but i did not come across any second message to decode other than the SMS. Kinda confusing huh.
14. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 8:39 am :: 
Sage: Well, it's either the second coded message doesn't exist or we are both reading the older edition? Welcome to the blog!
15. Justin left...
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 5:11 pm
so what is the decoded message?
16. JayWalk left...
Sunday, 19 April 2009 11:25 pm :: 
Justin: Just form a sentence from the first letter of each sms msg.

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