Via the book blogging grapevine, this book was on my radar for some time. When author Suanne Laqueur approached me, I was happy to purchase it.
Consequently, my first 2015 read turned out to be a beautifully written Indie affirming my conviction that there are many Indie voices deserving to be heard. With so many aspects ofThe Man I Love to admire, Ms. Laqueur’s voice is indisputably one of them.
First, the story has a timeless theme. Through Erik and Daisy’s story, I re-experienced shades of my own college years, which were…well, let’s just say MANY moons ago. Ms. Laqueur’s writing took me on a magic carpet ride back to my youth, beckoning me to remember and feel anew my own college experiences with friendship and love. Through these two lovers, I felt again the pull, the urgency, the sweetness, the passion, and ultimately, the heartbreak of young love. When a story achieves this, that’s saying something in my book.
The book also speaks to another unfortunate, but increasingly frequent companion to American college life — gun violence. Erik and Daisy’s story, along with that of their circle of friends, shows not only the immediate physical and emotional devastation these events unleash, but also the long-lasting, ever present ghosts that can walk throughout life with victims, tainting every aspect of their lives and relationships, crippling them psychologically and emotionally.
With poignant clarity, the author shows us how one’s seemingly making it through tragedy can be pure illusion. Indeed, Daisy and Erik appear to have come out the other side, if not unscathed at least unbowed. But behind the facade, Ms. Laqueur beautifully unearths the fault lines people often never see in a traumatized person — someone walking around looking fine on the outside, but drowning inside.
Additionally, this read opened up to me a world to which I have no contact: ballet. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll never catch me at a performance. Been there, done that, not my thing. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed being plunged into this world of dancers, teachers, and stage designers and witnessing the dedication, competition, jealousies, dramas, triumphs, and heartbreaks of the profession. I appreciated seeing all that goes into a production.
I also enjoyed eavesdropping on a world where gayness is not just accepted, but understood…where its existence is uncomplicated and normal. Ms. Laqueur wrote characters like Will, Erik’s best friend, with a love, sensitivity, understanding, level of comfort, and humor that most of us can only hope to have.
While there is much to love about The Man I Love, I had some reservations. First, this is a long book…almost 600 pages. While not a problem in and of itself, the book felt unnecessarily long for this storyline. The first half dragged somewhat for me, with the story not really picking up a head of steam and hooking me until quite a long time in.
My other reservation may be more about me than the book actually, but for similar souls, I mention it. I readily admit I’m a cynic…not all soft and gooey on the inside or out. So when a character gets too schmaltzy, overly dramatic, intense, and downtrodden about love for too long, frankly I want to slap the person and yell Snap out of it! I felt like this about Erik both during and after the breakup. Yes, I readily admit love and love lost can really do a number, on young people especially, for a very long time. Still, I got exasperated with him.
In the end, this is an absorbing debut work by a new author I look forward to watching in future.