Many stories have taken place there; a concrete jungle, made of structures so tall, they tickle the foot of God. The lights are always shining, and ever bright, with an indefatigable hustle for success and progress. It’s a melting pot of practically every race, culture, and lifestyle there is, yet all of it somehow functional and prosperous. New York City is a place requiring a certain will, a unique determination, and certain appreciation for humanity in order happily live there. The chaos can be overwhelming to many, but its glamour and charm, nevertheless, enchants millions. A lifetime isn’t nearly enough to experience everything it has to offer, and all it has to hide.
In Restoration Heights, Wil Medearis invites readers into New York City’s vibrant art world, introducing us to its ambitious, struggling artists and to the extreme wealth accompanying the art scene one would expect in such a lucrative market. His simple, clear, and engaging prose provide vivid images in the reader’s mind to enjoy, a remarkable achievement for a first novel.
Taken through the perspective of a thirty-year-old artist named Reddick, the reader travels through the underworld of business and learns the complex relationship between local New Yorkers, artists striving for recognition, and the wealthy families that have their hands in all of the action. Reddick has yet to taste success with his own work. In order to sustain himself, he installs art in the homes of wealthy people who can afford it. One evening, his average life takes a dramatic turn from its monotonous daily routine, to one of determination shrouded in mystery. He meets a young woman, Hannah, attractive, blonde, and at the time, very drunk. After stoically denying her passes, she exits through an alley door and is never seen again. Reddick takes it upon himself to learn her fate.
The story ensues, and the reader is taken on a journey that penetrates class, culture, morality, and the unceasing change that this world is made up of. Wil Medaris does a fantastic job layering a classic storyline with ideas and topics important to address in our world today. Using Reddick as his vehicle, the reader feels as if he’s glancing into the life of the author himself as he communicates a feeling of truth and sincerity through the medium of a fictional story.
Reddick is questioned a myriad of times by those who know him best, concerned about his motivation for his determination to discover Hannah’s fate. These questions force him to confront his race, his morality, the social constructs surrounding him and where he fits into such a world, and to accept the reality of what the world is, rather than what he may want it to be. As he works through these ideas, the reader is invited to do the same. Subtle, but tastefully handled by Medearis.
Another effective addition to this story is the high morality of the main character, Reddick. At first, it comes off as repulsive because his righteous behavior feels a bit overdone. However, the choice to make him this way humanizes the rest of the characters. And inevitably, the reader is turning within and sorting out his own moral standing. This type of interaction between the story’s direction and its characters makes the reader feel involved in the events unfolding on the page in front of them. It is this sort of play between the author and his audience that makes this novel a worthy read.
Restoration Heights will capture you from the very first chapter, tastefully written with a message that gets richer the more it’s analyzed. Wil Medearis tastefully paints his first novel with lucid images and a storyline nearly as complex as a Julian Schnabel painting. More than just another missing person mystery, it becomes an important observation on the challenges affecting our everyday lives, as well as an art piece requiring a close examination to extract the important discussions it invites readers to participate in.