As children, April and Oliver understood each other so deeply that much of their relationship existed just below the surface, unspoken. Oliver would sit at his piano, waiting for April to join him, and know intuitively when she would arrive. April would come to meet Oliver as soon as her shift was up at her father's bar, and when she was upset, only his playing could soothe her. Perhaps it was the pain and loss they both experienced so young that held them together.
But the closeness they shared has become strange over the years they've spent apart. Oliver has been away, given up his love for the piano, and is perfectly happy with his life and fiancé, Bernadette. April has stayed, living the same way she did as a young teenager, dating dangerous men and working at a bar in an unsafe part of town, where she also lives. If one thing has stayed the same, it's the way their connection remains below the surface, but now, that which is unspoken threatens to emerge from the subliminal at any moment, if only they'd let it.
Narrated by Abby Craden, Tess Callahan's novel is full of the subtle complexities of real relationships. Craden's voice is low and moody as she barrels through the story, just as life unfolds around us despite the sense that there should be some stillness in moments like these. And like that which goes unspoken between April and Oliver, it seems there is something just below Craden's voice; a crack, a weight, or something a little more concrete than the words being said. In Craden's voice you can hear that Oliver is sincere when he says he doesn't miss playing the piano, even while April's confidence that she knows him better than he knows himself is real, too. When April defends her abusive boyfriend, TJ, you know that she isn't weak, but that TJ does deserve sympathy. There is a twinge of irony in Craden's voice as the complexity of the characters' personalities and their relationships become clearer, as things refuse to be the way they ought be, and stubbornly remain the way they truly are. It is in Craden's narration that the subtleties and nuance of Callahan's novel come to life. Erin Ikeler
Sexual tension builds as Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student, finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend, and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own - secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancée.
Yet April knows. Is it really her life that's unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...toward a surprising revelation.
©2009 Tess Callahan; (P)2009 Random House
I purchased this book believing that I would read a story about a boy and a girl who were best friends in junior/senior high, that lost touch with one another after graduation, are reunited as adults, and eventually realize that they were meant to be together. That is sort of what this book is about, but there is just so much more. In fact, too much more. There were so many times throughout the book where I shook my head and thought, “Really?!?! I don’t think so…”. So much of it seemed contrived in order to move the story to another place. And the poor decisions made by so many of the characters – it was just unbelievable. I think I would have enjoyed actually reading this book more than listening to it for two reasons: 1) the narrator’s voice was almost like a hypnotist (I could easily hear her repeating, “You are now completely relaxed…”); 2) the characters Hal and Al were difficult to separate when listening to someone say the two names. I wish I had spent my credit on a different book.
I kept almost stopping this book as it was depressing and April was sad and tragic. If I had had something else in my library, I probably would have bailed, but once I finished it I was glad I had read it. I liked the ending.
Hmmm. Not sure how to review this without spoiling it. It was OK, but just OK. The author has potential, but this one was just a little off for me. I need to "read" a story that's believable. There are soooo many depressing scenes, too much sexual tension, frustration and flirting. And why would you have a story with a Hal and an Al. I kept having to think which one was the father and which one was the son. I'll stop now, because all my other comments would spoil it. I did enjoy the last hour and half of the book.
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