Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: The Man I Love, by Suanne Laqueur

One look brought them together. One bullet tore them apart. 

Winner of the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for romance, Suanne Laqueur's astonishing debut novel follows a young man's emotional journey to salvage relationships destroyed in the wake of a school shooting. 

As a college freshman, Erik Fiskare is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage. The moment he lays eyes on a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful. Their love story thrives within a tight-knit circle of friends, all bound by creativity and artistry. A newcomer arrives--a brilliant but erratic dancer with an unquenchable thirst for connection. And when this disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater, the story is forever changed. Daisy is shot and left seriously injured. And Erik finds himself alone in the aisle, looking down the muzzle of a pistol and trying to stop the madness. He succeeds, but with tremendous repercussions to his well-being and that of his loved ones. 

Traumatized by the experience, Erik and Daisy spiral into depression and drug use until a shocking act of betrayal destroys their relationship. To survive, Erik must leave school and disconnect from all he loves. He buries his heartbreak and puts the past behind. Or so he believes. 

As he moves into adulthood, Erik comes to grips with his role in the shooting, and slowly heals the most wounded parts of his soul. But the unresolved grief for Daisy continues to shape his dreams at night. Once those dreams were haunted by blood and gunfire. Now they are haunted by the refrain of a Gershwin song and a single question: is leaving always the end of loving? 

Spanning fifteen years, The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma--physical and mental--and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik's experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Confession time...I've been finished with this book for at least a week and am just now sitting down to write the review.  Not only am I intimidated about channeling my thoughts into coherent words but this was also one of those reads which completely captivated and demanded every single one of my emotions.  When the last page was turned I needed a few days to simply recover!  To say this book is a journey is putting it lightly.  Spanning a time frame of 15 years Suanne Laqueur takes you places you didn't even know existed in the fictional world, leaving you with a story so real you're left wondering and re-thinking how the trials in your own lives have affected and shaped the person you are today.

Written in the narrative of main character Eric, whom you're first introduced to as a young happy boy, The Man I Love offers an eyewitness perspective into his life; the ups and downs, love, life lessons, struggles and triumphs.  When the last page is turned you feel as though you know him personally, intimately even.  For the first 8 years of his life with the love of both his parents his view on the world is almost of perfection.  He wakes up and life simply goes according to plan or at least to as much of a plan as an eight year old can grasp.  But the world isn't a perfect place nor is it a place in which one can control the outcome of it's impact on their lives.  This is the lesson Eric must learn and like many of us, it's a hard lesson learned over the course of many years.

 Author Suanne Laqueur brilliantly begins this book by devoting the first chapter to painting a picture of young Erik Fiskare.  She not only pinpoints a few monumental moments in this young boy's life but she also helps us understand what makes him tick as a person. By chapter two we find ourselves with Erik as a college freshman during fall semester.  I've always thought the most important reason to even go to college is for life experience.  Yes, a degree is also important but in my humble opinion college's most important lesson is life.  It's more about learning how you view life, learning how to live and work with people who may not view life through the same lenses, making your own choices, forming your own opinions, choosing the path you want to see your life take.  Suanne Laquer captures this sentiment perfectly.

As the story progresses Erik meets Daisy, she is without a doubt his soulmate, his better-half.  They balance one another perfectly.  When tragedy strikes these two take a stand supporting one another, working together to fight the depression trying so hard to tear them apart.  At first you think these two will be ok, they will make it, but the thing about life, love and tragedy is they are strong emotions and if not dealt with properly they literally have the power to destroy everything in their wake.

This is not your typical boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome a tragedy and live HEA.  That's not to say you won't get a HEA, because you do, it's just this story will take you places you weren't expecting leaving you a victim to your own emotions.  Technically speaking the writing is flawless, Suanne Laqueur provides vivid pictures painted with such specific detail you cannot help but picture this story playing out in your mind.  Buy this book, read this book, but prepare yourself, it's a highly addictive and long one!       

If you are like me when when you get to The End, you are going to have one heck of a hangover, good news!!! Give Me Your Answer True, just released.  Finally an opportunity to get to know Daisy better.

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