The kindest thing you can do for someone you love is to never tell them how much they have broken your heart.
I don't think I've ever NOT wanted to review a book as much as this.
I feel vastly inept and out of my depth to give any opinion of merit about this one. There will be other readers who'd be more eloquent on this subject matter. Readers I'm hell bent to find and force to give this story better justice than I ever can. But for the moment, just be aware that I'm wincing over the words I'm laying to paper because I feel very much like a poser reviewing this book.
Because I have never been married and this is about a forty-five year old woman cheating on her husband of twenty-two years.
I do not condone infidelity but cheating in books has never been a deal breaker for me, so long as the argument for committing it will have enough weight and sense. Because these issues, when given the proper treatment, are never really as simple as yes and no, good and bad. And this one made all the right arguments and asked all the right questions for me to sympathize with the heroine. Because for me she was a good mother, a good friend and until that fateful day when she woke up from the dream that was her life, she was a good wife. One that makes me yearn for that overrated happiness for her, despite her shortcomings.
Happiness is overrated. Maybe we are not built for it. Maybe the best we can hope for is to be... Content. To be resigned. To muddle through life and be grateful for the good, and work through the bad. Maybe that is what I will have for the rest of my life, this good life to which I am resigned, to which I am grateful.
This was unrelentingly gritty and unapologetic in its honesty, vividly painting marital dystopia. The gruesome details of what lays beyond "til death do us part" brought in sharp focus. Infidelity doesn't come arbitrarily here, it is borne from the staleness routine brings. The slow painful death of romance giving way to dirty dishes in the sink, arguments over laundry, the dripping faucet and the ugliness comfort and complacency ushers to the bedroom and beyond.
It's like a cautionary tale for the newly engaged and a horror story for the newlyweds.
I was pleasantly surprised with the conventions this story bucked. I liked that Elisabeth and Will are both in their forties, old enough to recognize the error and gravity of their actions. I find it interesting that between the two of them, Will was the reluctant participant, the one who doesn't want to be THAT man, the one who breaks up a family, instead settling to be the OTHER man, the one who sleeps with a married woman in secret (a debatable lesser or greater evil, surely). But what I truly appreciated was that they are not just two people willfully committing adultery, they are two fully formed characters that make you ache for them when they are together as much as when they are apart.
"Everyday," I tell him, "you will miss me either a little less or a little more. Until one day you will wake up and realize, you don't miss me at all, or you will find yourself incapable of living without me."
"And then what," Will says. "Then what?"
"Then," I say just before I disconnect, "come and find me."
Elisabeth will probably not be as easy to take for some but for me, she was a very effective heroine. I was never against her. With all the questionable morals of her decisions and seemingly selfish nature of her actions, she was still more a casualty than the actual villain.
***Insert the devastating entirety of Chapter 36 here.***
For all her complexity as a mother, a wife, a lover, a friend, she is consistent in her admirable depth and spine that could only be forged from enduring a marriage that has been waiting to be broken for twenty-two years. She carries the baggage and guilt of her sins on her own, not because she's untrusting, but because she doesn't want to impose the discomfort of her secrets on the people she loves.
This is my first Megan Hart book and I'm thrilled to see she pulls no punches when it comes to simple words strung beautifully in quiet and heavy harmony. The metaphors did get a bit too in-your-face but everywhere else, her words reach across the pages, yanking at those near non-existent heartstrings of mine while I could only read on helplessly.
Some details still didn't add up for me, like Naveen's purpose in the story and Elisabeth's Synesthesia. Was it an excuse for the psychedelic narrative of voices having colors and lights having tastes without coming across pretentious? Was it to best illustrate her long-standing isolation that may have doomed her marriage even before it started? It was an odd piece to the puzzle. Though the last 20% did well in digging its claws deep, I felt the heartbreaking goodbye was a little too drawn out for my tastes.
Impossible as it may seem, with the kind of story this delivered, I liked the bittersweet optimism in how things ended. And I know, I'd probably be alone in that boat.
This got a little too long, I'd perfectly understand if anyone who comes across this review TL:DR'ed this. And I apologize for what I feel are my poor efforts to approximate my feelings towards this story but I fervently encourage everyone to read this book and write a better review.
One that this book better deserves.
"He was my ocean, and I didn't know if I would drown until I learned how well I could swim."
ARC provided by Harlequin MIRA thru NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.