Rich Marcello writes of deep platonic love in his novel, Cenotaphs. Conveying the story of Ben, a divorced older man, the reader learns of his past choices, heartbreaks, friendships, and mistakes. Ben lives alone in a cabin with his dog Zeke, regularly visiting his fellow retired friends at a local breakfast joint for camaraderie. An average life, with average possessions, the highpoint of Ben’s days are when people come to talk to him at his home. Although he is not a therapist, he describes himself as one who listens well, does not judge, and does not expect a thing in return for his services. He frequently meets with these “clients”, helping them reform their lives, and imparts advice that he wishes he had known at an earlier age.
Upon one of these visits, a woman named Sam comes to visit Ben. Beautiful, powerful, and extremely successful, Ben is stunned by Sam’s uniqueness and how connected he feels to her prior to the conversation. As the novel continues, Ben and Sam develop a tight-knit bond, confiding in each other their darkest secrets, emotions, and insecurities. Although they appear to be polar opposites, Ben and Sam find much common ground on which to strengthen their relationship and devotion to one another. Overall, the novel focuses on the theme of finding and accepting love, specifically platonic love, after extreme misfortunes and loss. I personally enjoyed the many deep interludes about love that were spread throughout these pages. For example, Ben stated, “My greatest learning is this – love people exactly as they are, flaws and all, for as long as they grace your life. We don’t get do-overs, do we?”. I appreciated the profoundness of this statement as well as the many that followed. They are both contemplative and engaging, drawing readers to reflect on their lives and how they can love those around them better. Although I found many parts of this book rather somber, Marcello does a fantastic job showing the stages of grief in his characters after they experience catastrophic life changes. Broken, yet still standing, Ben and Sam’s life stories would be relatable to any mature reader who has lost loved ones to horrific tragedies.
This novel also touches on political topics such as gun control, climate change, healthcare, and free college tuition. Furthermore, it addresses different religions, religious figures, and struggling with faith after loss. With a wide range of materials addressed, most mature readers would find a topic that interests them in this book.
|Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
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