You Hear Me?
Following the fractured lives of two men whose friendship fell apart as they did, we’re introduced to the sleepy town they both reside in, the people they associate with, and the new world they try to build for themselves, despite their upbringings, regrets, memories, and grief. Jonah, who must integrate himself back into a society without his deceased family to start a new one with his wife in the very hometown that he grew up and gave up in after time spent in prison, and Fin, a recovering alcoholic who can’t remember who he is, what he had, or what he’s done after a near-fatal accident, both test the assumed stability of relying on their ability to sabotage any hints of happiness and suppress the trauma that has tucked itself in the corners of their interwoven lives. Immediately, there’s a sense of detachment and disorientation, despite full disclosure of the characters’ bearings. This juxtaposition evokes a complexity that’s dizzying, just as the circumstances of creating normalcy after loss can be. The back and forth nature of the narrative offers an ethereal betweenness, an idleness, that stands on the edge of the past we can’t change and the present seemingly just as immovable. The author tells this story of brokenness bravely, seamlessly blurring the line between reality, and personal truth and perspective. Chances lost and mistakes made penetrate the page as history repeats itself. A sense of stagnancy sits against the sentences while a hard-hearted urgency pushes back, haunted with a desperate, dead-end emptiness.
We’re dropped into the minds of many characters, each voice a commanding presence, distinct and resonating, who struggle with the wants of their hungry hearts, of feeling misplaced and alone at home as they must confront the ghostly glimpses of each other’s demons amidst their own, grasping for things they can’t reach. It felt almost like I was experiencing a thought process throughout: unexpected, but specific, triggers setting off buried recollections, bouncing from one scene to the next, tripping on the parts that sting, skimming over the places that don’t and arriving at no particular conclusion just yet. It was breath-catching and evoking in its honesty and willingness to play in the dark. Just as the characters do, the reader, too, tends to transition from feeling grounded to feeling entirely lost in a place that embraces the recklessness that accompanies addiction, vengeful grudges, and loneliness.
The conflict was intense and underlying, the dialogue sharp, but simple, and used sparingly as crucial to character development, and the genuine intimacy was gently heartbreaking in serious and secretive and special ways, easy to sink into and stay awhile. Despite some almost encouraged distraction and ensuing, albeit welcomed, confusion from word repetition and disembodied voice, for example, the onslaught of detail and the subtle, staccato pace constantly convinced me that there is beauty in the breaking of people, places and things. That maybe we, as humans, were never meant to be whole to begin with. That maybe we can put ourselves back together with someone else’s pieces after all.
|Willow Weed Books
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