Deep, absorbing, and poignant…A many-layered story told with an authentic touch.
Sharply observed relationships, deft exploration of mental illness, authentic characters, and a touch of painful reality make Brucie’s nuanced novel a sure bet. While working as a dishwasher at a California bistro, college sophomore Daniel Reed falls deeply in love with the beautiful Charlene. A sudden unexpected incident forces the couple to marry in haste. When Charlene gets pregnant, Daniel accepts his boss’s offer of partnership and kick starts his own business. But things take an unexpected turn; Charlene begins to experience frequent episodes of paranoid schizophrenia, and Daniel’s business faces bankruptcy. With Charlene’s worsening condition, Daniel has no choice but to make a difficult decision. Brucie delves into the intricacies of love, marriage, and relationships and creates a remarkably original story with authentic young adult friendships, realistic dialogue, and complex underlying questions: can love really conquer all? Even if you don’t always have the best of everything, can you still have a near-perfect life? Smooth, affecting first-person narration in Daniel’s voice, allows readers to both identify with the young man’s self-doubts, fears, and insecurities and recognize his naivety and easy trust of people. Daniel’s love story is complicated by grief spirals. His emotional arc is all the more powerful for how much he fights for his love. His life’s other complications come from his unsavory business decisions and Charlene’s gradual descent into a dark web of mental illness. In the end, though, he realizes he has to learn to tackle hard truths head-on. Overall, the story moves subtly and at a measured pace, creating a rich emotional landscape and letting small changes—Charlene’s gradually occurring psychotic episodes, Daniel’s deepening financial woes—ripple out gently. The spark between the couple and their authentic individual bonds with Mark and Odette deepen this dense story, which delves into complex issues—the residual effects of one person’s mental illness on family and friends, acceptance of imperfect partners, and what it means to love truly and wholly. This nuanced story offers new perspectives about mental illness while emphasizing the value and complexity of love, acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness. Even though Charlene and Daniels’ love story ends on a tragic note readers will enjoy every minute they spend with the couple. Brucie is an author to watch.
En Route Books & Media
Pub date June 19, 2022
Price $19.95 (USD) Hardcover, $14.95 Paperback, $0.00 Kindle edition