By Su Sukol
An amazing novel but it comes with a Warning – This Novel Contains Adult Content and Themes
J has unexpectedly fallen for his best friend Zak after an ugly divorce leaves him in a difficult situation with his daughter. Zak has Annie and two kids of his own. Zak seems to have everything going for him but his easy going exterior hides a darkness that is pushed to the forefront after an incident at the school both J and Zak work at.
From the start of the book, an interplay of love and jealousy is apparent. Will J and Zak work through it and come out the other side? Will J and Annie be able to help Zak work through his mental decline?
The tumultuous relationship is the backbone of the story, but there are multitudinous story threads woven well into a blanket of real life and real life issues. It treats themes of self harm, abuse, racial bias and mental health with a firm, sometimes humorous, but absolutely competent hand.
This book is a terrific read.Not a book for everyone, but it’s a must read if you want meaning in what you consume. It requires a certain amount of discomfort in order to expand your worldview, and this book is comfortably uncomfortable. This is not exactly a beach holiday novel, yet despite the dark themes it is eminently readable. I read this in one sitting, wanting the comfort of the relationship but needing to know that it could survive the deep issues that both J and Zak are dealing with.
The story is paced well, and the characters relatable and you can like them for all their flaws. In particular the children’s age informed understanding of their place in the relationship, and the impact Zak’s declining mental health has on them is both entertaining and observant. The personal growth throughout the story is also apparent, not only for J and Zak but for some of the minor characters too as their misunderstandings and long held beliefs are challenged and broken down.
The ending is perfectly done, not too saccharine and not at all disappointing, it leaves you wanting exactly the right amount of more. A definite five out of five.
Score: Five out of Five