One look brought them together. One bullet tore them apart.
Winner of the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for romance, Suanne Laqueur’s astonishing debut novel follows a young man’s emotional journey to salvage relationships destroyed in the wake of a school shooting.
As a college freshman, Erik Fiskare is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage. The moment he lays eyes on a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful. Their love story thrives within a tight-knit circle of friends, all bound by creativity and artistry. A newcomer arrives–a brilliant but erratic dancer with an unquenchable thirst for connection. And when this disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater, the story is forever changed. Daisy is shot and left seriously injured. And Erik finds himself alone in the aisle, looking down the muzzle of a pistol and trying to stop the madness. He succeeds, but with tremendous repercussions to his well-being and that of his loved ones.
Traumatized by the experience, Erik and Daisy spiral into depression and drug use until a shocking act of betrayal destroys their relationship. To survive, Erik must leave school and disconnect from all he loves. He buries his heartbreak and puts the past behind. Or so he believes.
As he moves into adulthood, Erik comes to grips with his role in the shooting, and slowly heals the most wounded parts of his soul. But the unresolved grief for Daisy continues to shape his dreams at night. Once those dreams were haunted by blood and gunfire. Now they are haunted by the refrain of a Gershwin song and a single question: is leaving always the end of loving?
Spanning fifteen years, The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma–physical and mental–and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik’s experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.
You don’t want just another “contemporary romance.” You don’t want a genre. You want a story that mirrors your longing. “You want to see the unspoken words in your heart on the page. You want to be touched and validated. You want to be swept up in a love that erases the universe and sets you at the center of a new galaxy. But you’re no fool… You want it to be believable.
I want that, too. I want to write passionate but thoughtful love stories. I made up my own genre: I call it emotionally intelligent romance.” – Suanne Laqueur
Those words quoted above where part of the words from the author under the book’s description at amazon. I don’t really know where to start. I’m literally lost for words. For the first time in a long while, I am afraid I’ll mess this up and not give justice to what I’ve read through my review. The last time I felt like this was when I read I Love That About Her . They are not the same book. Not even the same genre. But I’d say there are books that will leave you silent after you read them, making you mull over what you just read, going through some bits and parts of what you read inside your head. Then you sigh. And both of these books made me feel that way.
I don’t know how to write this review without spoiling it for those who haven’t read it and at the same time pour all the thoughts and emotions that this book made me felt. And that’s when I remembered the words quoted above that I have read before accepting to review this book. This is not just another book, this is an emotionally intelligent romance. And it was also an emotionally intelligent written book.
So let me start where it is easy… the Point of View (POV) at which it was written. As oppose to most people saying books written in first POV are better because it made them feel like they were the character, I love books written in third person because they let me as part of the story. First POVs makes me feel like reading a diary, an outsider invading someone’s privacy. Third person POVs let’s me see the story like I’m there. I was a personal witness watching everything unfold. And reading ‘The Man I Love’ made me feel like I was one of the people in Erik’s circle. Watching his life unfold, at times having this urge to smack him in the face and at times wanting to cuddle him in an embrace and tell him everything will soon be better. I was not being told the story. I was part of the adventure as I turn on every page.
Reading ‘The Man I Love’ was not just another ride to a happy ever after novel. It’s not about the fairy tale but more importantly it tells a story of a life. A journey. Life that includes real emotions and not just the fairy tale – anger, happiness, hurting, all those ups and downs. This book had me confuse at some point. There are things that I don’t agree with but I do understand. I have this notion that ‘just because I understand it meant I agree with it’, this book though had me in reverse, I don’t agree with it but I understand.’ I don’t know if that make sense to you. I can’t articulate it myself. I just don’t know that there were points where Erik’s reactions and decision were the exact opposite of what I believe in, or what I would have done but then I know where he’s coming from. I can clearly see why he reacted the way he did. And I understand him. And that understanding had me continue finding out what he’ll be up to when otherwise I would have close the book and walk away.
The same thing with Daisy. There was a point that I don’t agree with the way she dealt with her life. I may have never been there but I felt her pain. And having those feelings connected I was able to accept her and the things she did.
Reading this book was an amazing experience. It made me feel a lot of emotion. It even opened feelings I thought I have buried deep long ago. But that’s not all. it also opened my eyes a little more. Gave me a better understanding of why some people do the things they do. Why they react the way they did. The characters’ flaws made it so beautiful it left me speechless after reading it. I just wanted to be left alone and bask on it a little more. And the funny and fun moments were not lost on me either. What’s funnier is that I didn’t shed a tear even after all the emotions I went through reading it but I am now as I look back at everything that happened between its pages.
It’s really hard to find the right words to describe the experience of reading this book. It would probably wiser to leave it a day or two until I can collect my thoughts properly and write something more coherent but then I think having all those feelings I felt reading it is important to be fresh and intact on me as I write my review.
If you’re tired of reading almost the same plot, I suggest you read this. It’s no fairy tale. But it’s magnificent. It’s a new kind of romance that is definitely well-crafted and intelligently written.
Suanne Laqueur’s debut novel The Man I Love won the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for romance and took a gold medal at the 2015 eLit Awards. It also won an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival. Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010 and now blogs at suannelaqueur.com. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children.