“You can’t love someone else, if you don’t love yourself.”
“If you love someone set them free, if they never come back, they were never yours to begin with.”
I used to think these two sayings were mutually exclusive. It was only a significant amount of time and heartache that taught me otherwise. But these two saying (as clichéd or predictable as they have become over the years) have been the foundation of some of the most dramatic literature ever written. (Jane Eyre…Wuthering Heights…) Why? Because these two saying not only establish love, but they also decimate it, contrive it, and then try to mend it.
Let me let you in on a little habit of mine. It’s not horrifying (like most of my habits) but it does explain my mind-set (80% of the time) when chosing books to read and review.
I love Independent Films. While most of you are sleeping (which, to be honest, is probably what I should be doing) I stay up late and drown myself in sarcastic, intellectual on-screen banter. The reason I love these films is because they tend to break the mold of what is predictable. They do not always end with peace or happiness. They tend to strain silence to the point of awkwardness, and self-deprecation is usually a standard. Also a standard, the two sayings above. To me, Independent Films are the books that someone, somewhere couldn’t figure out how to write, so they put it on film instead.
April and Oliver is the product of someone finally learning how.
“Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April’s brother. 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 fiancé. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April’s life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral…towards salvation.”
In the interesting of saving time (and clarifying the synopsis for those of you who like “simple”) April and Oliver is a novel about two beautifully screwed up individuals who have a hard time excepting reality. April cannot overcome the stigma of being ” the damaged one” while Oliver struggles with the expectations of being “the perfect one.” Hurting or subsequently taking care of the other is all they know how to do. And they do it well.
Both of these characters are amazingly portrayed. They are also frustrating, infuriating and (at times) incredibly depressing. Tess Callahan, without a doubt, had a clear vision as to what she wanted her characters to depict and she delivered in breathtaking (heartbreaking) style. For instance, A & O was written in companion narrative, meaning that both April and Oliver were allowed to have a voice. Doing so opened a flood gate for emotional connection.
From April we got to experience the aftermath of loss, violence, twisted passion. From Oliver: penance, duty, desire and longing. Separately they are compelling, but together they were down right mesmerizing.
In short, I had a difficult time putting it down.
I’ll be straight with you. There is probably only 5% of you out there that will read this book an appreciate it for its depth, idiosyncracies and tortuous plot. The other 95% of you will think I’m bat shit crazy. That I’m a glutton for literary punishment. You are probably right. But I have a firm belief that the best books out there are the ones that make us uncomfortable. And April and Oliver had me cringing from their poor choices or disillusioned beliefs significantly more than sighing over their sweet moments of reverie (which I’m still not certain they even had.)
The plot was jumpy at times (especially during the flashbacks.) The family entanglements were a tad confusing, and chances are (until the last 10%) you will HATE if not one but both of the lead characters in this novel. But Callahan’s ability to create life changing sentiments with only a few flowery words will keep you flipping the pages hoping for the best.
“All your life you’re yellow. Then one day you brush up against something blue, the barest touch, and voila, the rest of your life you’re green.”
Chick lit lovers will probably enjoy this book more than most, but lovers of tumultuous relationships will appreciate it as well. Dive at your own risk, lifeguard not on duty.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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