Sunday, September 18, 2011
Review: When Love Is Not Enough
When Love Is Not Enough by Wade Kelly
This book was worth reading, but quite exhausting, and not only for its subject matter.
This was an exceptional book in many ways. Starting with the narrative - with three different narrators, diary entries, flashbacks, and the present - this might sound confusing but it actually wasn't. The three voices were different enough to keep them apart even without the dates at the head of the paragraphs, offering insights into the heads of all three main characters, Jamie, Matt and Darian, and thus making them come alive nicely. All three were flawed and tortured, and still each one likeable in his own way. Even Matt, who started out as some kind of grunting, self - centered caveman but redeemed himself nicely enough by the end.
Then there was the plot proper. Jamie died, and the two men who were closest to him in life seek solace with each other, finding more than they were looking for. This is a beautiful premise; it was comforting for me as reader to know this beforehand as the book opened with Jamie's funeral. The actual getting together of Matt and Darian was moving, if somewhat far-fetched, and those two had great chemistry together. I could only wish them the best of luck.
Buuuuuut... here's also where my problems started. Remember, one has just lost his lover, the other has been commitment-shy for all his life to a point where he never hooked up with anyone within fifty miles of his home town from fear of having to meet them again. I can totally relate to them seeking and finding solace with each other over the loss of Jamie. But love? Over the course of a few hours, no less? One-eighty. 'nuff said.
Then, all the issues those three had to face. All in all, our three heroes went through almost any torture known to man. Anger issues, drug addiction, emotional and physical abuse, rape (for those who need to know - not onpage), bullying, homophobia, hatred... it was nearly overwhelming. Painful to watch, and at times, so well-written I could feel it for myself, particularly Jamie. And then, when he JUST seemed to overcome it - wham, came the trigger that pushed him over the edge and I was just like "Wait, WHAT?". He'd gone through so much worse, how could this, of all things, throw him into that kind of desperation? especially at this point of his life. As much as I pitied Jamie, his reaction was just immature, childish, and that felt totally out of character for him.
Ultimately, though, this book unfortunately fell flat for me for the two major issues I had. During the second half of the book, one character read to the other. The entire passage, the book's blurb and even a goodreads review of this book were quoted word-for-word. I didn't know what to do with that - I can only say that it was another "wait, what?" moment for me and threw me totally out of the story.
My second issue was the book's propensity to get preachy. While the proverbial moral forefinger peeked out discretly enough several times, it turned into a big flashing neon sign by the end. Moving as it was, Matt's sermon I could've done without. I felt hit over the head with it.
So all in all, I guess I still don't really know what to think of it. This book is not off-the-mill stuff, it's ambitious and yes, it reads honest and heartfelt too, but perhaps a bit overachieving (is this a word at all?). Certainly not light and fluffy entertainment, that's for sure.
Consider yourself warned, and maybe, find out for yourself.
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