Release date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
From acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a wry, heartfelt exploration of love and loss.
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.
As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.
When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
I have to start by wishing Camille a very happy publication day!
This book made me cry. That’s a pretty big deal for me you guys, I’m not really a crier, sure I have my moments but for the most part I’m pretty stoic. To say that this was an emotional read is an understatement and if you want a read with characters that are flawed, yet able to pull on your emotions, get this book!
James is the narrator here and I found hearing from a male perspective to be a really refreshing experience. He’s writing to his daughter, Emerson which was really sweet and if you’re worried that he may sugarcoat things because of this, don’t be. He’s brutally honest about his life and the mistakes he’s made and though he has many regrets, he’s unapologetic in a raw way. It starts in 1998 when his lifelong best friend introduces him to his new girlfriend, Lou. James immediately feels a strong connection to Lou but knows there is no way he can act on it. Right? As the time goes by and Lou and Rob face their own struggles, Lou and James continue to bond. After giving into temptation for just one night, Lou and James discover that a series of seemingly small choices have the impact to change their lives forever.
I don’t want to say much more about the plot as this is another book that I feel is best experienced on your own. I was totally enraptured by Pagan’s writing style and finished this one rather quickly. The characters were all extremely well developed and proved that even if you don’t always like or agree with choices they make, you will still feel a deep connection and understanding about why they behaved the way they did. This would be a perfect choice for a book club as there is SO much to discuss; love, loss, how the decisions we make, however small, can have life changing consequences, family, forgiveness, the beauty of unconventional relationships, I could go on and on. It really was a beautifully told story of one man’s journey that spoke to me on many levels.
Overall rating: 4.5/5 (only because parts were a tiny bit predictable)
Thanks to Kathleen Zrelak for my review copy.