I discovered Through My Window actually through the Spanish movie adaptation on Netflix and had zero clue that it was a book until the main character, Ares Hidalgo, had me in a strangle-hold and I was desperately searching for more.
Raquel Velazquez lives on a tiny sliver of land next to the sprawling Hidalgo estate, fueling her long-time obsession with Ares Hidalgo. Even though they've never spoken, Raquel spends time looking up information about the elusive middle brother and the Hidalgo company. She finds herself walking past where he practices and writing little stories about him.
One night, she hears noise right outside her window. She finds Apollo, the youngest Hidalgo brother, who thanks her for giving Ares her wifi password. Raquel is stunned, having never said a word to him. Only a few days later, she hears Ares in the courtyard, smoking, playing music, and doing everything he can to be disruptive. They talk for the first time. Ares is entitled, ungrateful, and unabashed at stealing her information.
He smirks at her, having broken into her computer and discovered exactly how much she thinks of him. Aresgreekgod, he taunts her with her own password, saying she won't do anything to him for invading her privacy, because she's invaded his too.
Raquel is overwhelmed by Ares, by his taunts and smirks and self-assuredness. But she holds her own. Despite her nerves, she warns him to stop messing with her, and she unplugs the wifi that night. She wakes up to him climbing through her window to plug it back in.
Through My Window is your typical rich-boy meets poor-girl story. I think a large part of my love of it stems from the movie, which I found to be better than the book. The whole tone of the movie was different, and the characters were more serious, more keyed into one another. There was an air of danger and obsession that the book didn't portray as well through the writing.
Ariana Godoy, however, created a really solid base for the story. Ares is a typical stock character, but there's something more there as he maintains the Hidalgo persona - aloof, un-breechable, and disinterested, even in the lash lifestyle he seems to enjoy. Ares comes across as troubled, but resigned to it, as though he can see that all those things are expected of him. He can't care too much, can't step out of line. He must live up to what his mogul father demands of him, even if it means pushing away his desire to connect with others.
While I found Raquel to be an interesting character, I didn't find her as compelling. She doesn't stand out as much. She's not as visceral, but she sees Ares, she wants Ares, and she continues to let herself be hurt in the hope that he wants her too. There are so many moments I wish Raquel had been a little stronger, but there's something to be said about her vulnerability, how she keeps putting herself in situations were she's able to open up with Ares.
I would never support a relationship like this in real life, but there's something there in those moments when Ares is caught in his own emotions, unable to process and reconcile what he feels -- the guilt he feels for hurting her -- with the person he's supposed to be. The story is really about Ares. About his clashing emotions, the way he feels trapped, the way he was never taught to work through his feelings, instead told to push them down, to ignore the feeling of others, to live up to the Hidalgo name and reject everything else.
Raquel is a static character. She never thinks she can "fix" Ares, but she never stops wanting him. There are moments where she sticks up to him, where she knows that he will do anything for her, even if he won't say it, and she uses those moments to assert her strength, even while being vulnerable. I wouldn't call Raquel weak at all, even as she longs for someone who hurts her through his own emotionally immaturity. Raquel is intelligent. She knows Ares, knows that his problems lie with himself, not with her. That's why it's not so hard to watch her go back to him, because even though she's always wanted him, she knows she'd be fine without him, but he can't say the same about her.
Raquel doesn't change over the course of the novel. She never sticks up for herself against Ares' self-important parents, she never overtly tries to get Ares back, never beats him at his own game. But she's open to him, aware of him, aware that he needs her and he's hurting himself more than anyone.
I normally never compare books to movies or let movies influence my thoughts about the book. But I watched the movie first, multiple times, reveling in the tone and the emotion of it. I do think the movie made me like the book more, because the film had more nuance, more clever twists, more emotional moments.
The writing wasn't always good. There were parts that dragged out and opportunities that were missed. I found myself missing events that happened in the movie, events that strengthened each character and gave them depth.
The novel was originally a Wattpad book, and I could see the places where a normal editor might want to trim down, refocus, or tie in better to the overall plot. There were moments and scenes that felt unnecessary and out of place, while other moments needed more depth, more time on the page. I think because the Wattpad story got so popular as is, they didn't "trim the fat." I would've liked to see more attention to detail, more nuance, and a more focused ending.
The book was okay. The movie was great. I do recommend checking out both and diving into Ares Hidalgo wholeheartedly. The actor who plays him, Julio Peña, won't disappoint.