A remarkable examination of love… Addictively readable.
John Alvah Barnes Jr and Naomi Lynn Barnes’s latest is an elegiac portrait of an unconventional couple exploring the nature of true love. It is 1974. Kyle is a high school senior, merely going through the motions of his school life. Still scarred by the divorce of his parents, Kyle tries to find solace in music. Valerie, stuck in a loveless, abusive marriage, is an English teacher. When they meet, the spark immediately flies for Kyle. But Valerie, despite finding Kyle attractive, is reluctant to act on her impulses, owing to the age difference between them and the fact that Kyle is a student in the school. But Kyle is a one determined young eighteen-year-old, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The authors’ writing is nuanced, and their larger-than-life characters shimmer: Kyle charms with his wit and steadfastness. The authors beautifully portray Kyle’s inner yearnings as well as his teenage aghast, skillfully illustrating the subtle variations and manifestations of self-doubt. The best part of the authors’ writing is their exploration of Kyle’s persistent side, which despite all the hardships stays intact. Valerie, with her vulnerabilities and struggles remains an intriguing character throughout. At once dreamy and dramatic, the authors’ crisp prose beautifully gives soul to Kyle and Valerie’s love story as they capture the tension and excitement of the teenage Kyle, his attraction for the lovely Valerie, and how he is shaped by the divorce of his parents and his love for music. Valerie’s struggles to come out of her abusive marriage, all the while fighting to discover her own path is portrayed with conviction. The conflict in the plot not only comes from the dangerous situation that the couple finds themselves in but also from their anxieties over family’s approval, money, and career path. Throughout, the authors’ descriptive eyes lend beauty and authenticity to this intricate tale. Part autobiography and part fiction, the book has the pull of a mature romantic drama, and the authors’ deep understanding of the intricate framework of romantic relationship provides this story both authenticity and rationality. They evoke the 1970s eclectic music scene with skill and conviction, deftly capturing Kyle and his band’s raw, infectious energy. A meditation on both finding relevance and acceptance in the face of extraordinary circumstances and intricacies of love, this provocative tale isn’t the one to be missed.
By John Alvah Barnes Jr & Naomi Lynn Barnes
Pub date May 26, 2021
Price $16.99 (USD) Paperback, $5.46 Kindle edition