My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published: May 15th, 2018
Recommended Age: 16+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, LGBT, First Love, Grief, Friendship
This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that. Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. But then we fast-forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?
I feel peaceful.
Once in a while, I read a book that astonishes me. Not just because it is well-written and well-imagined, but because the sensitivity of the characters remind me of why human beings are worth it.
Why they are worth not only our time and money, but also our friendship and love. It’s no secret that humans can be awful to one another, but they can also be each other’s saviours.
This is more than a story about first love. It’s more than a story about grief. It’s more than a story, period. Sometimes, it’s a poem, other times a love letter, but always lyrical and affective.
There are books that were written to amaze, entertain, uplift or even teach. Then there are books that were written to be experienced mainly. Various themes are, in fact, introduced to open the reader’s mind in this one, but its lyricism is the one element that constantly awakens the reader’s ability to connect, feel and sympathize. Without it, absolutely nothing would be the same.
The author is audacious: There is no storyline per se. There are no quotation marks. There is an ever-present shift between past and present. Sometimes it is ambiguous. Or underdeveloped.
It doesn’t give you all the answers, but it doesn’t play with you either. It is honest and realistic. Some information we know, some we don’t. Because no one knows everything, nor should they.
I read it because I was pulled under and the beautiful language wrapped itself around my legs, making it impossible for me to escape this sea of words that contains quite a few sharks… but also a couple of dolphins.
That’s right, I could have used a less cheesy metaphor to describe my experience reading this book, but this is how I feel right now. You’re you, and I’m me, so your own experience will be different. Give this a chance. It is special and so, so worth it.
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