Acts of Desperation: A Novel
When Nolan’s protagonist meets Ciaran for the first time, she thinks he’s the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Besides his looks, she’s stricken by his wholeness, so unlike her inadequacy – something that becomes an ever-present motive of the book. Ciaran is always composed and unaffected by his surroundings while our narrator is drinking too much, sleeping around, and having huge issues with figuring out what she wants to do with her life. She perceives him as superior to her in every instance, inhumanly perfect, and she makes it her life purpose to please him and make him fall in love with her. What ensues is a distressing and intense account of an on-and-off toxic relationship that leaves the reader wondering at times how much a person can endure in the name of love.
The unnamed narrator is unapologetically messy and needy and most of it springs from her insecurity, the ambivalence she feels towards her body and her people-pleasing tendencies. The monologues about female desire and the patriarchal pressures, the analysis of how learning from a young age that her looks and her weight were measures for her worth impacted her body image and made her love and hate food at the same time were incredibly insightful and moving. Acts of Desperation is a powerful story about abuse, desire, toxic relationships, and growing into yourself.
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