Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: When Love Isn't Enough

By Gail Allison

What feels right versus what is right: it’s a predicament that none of us ever want to be stuck in, but most of us have been at one time or another. In "When Love Isn’t Enough," Stephanie Casher weaves the two together in a realistic, sometimes heartbreaking novel of growth.

Samantha Merrick is a train wreck waiting to happen. She’s partying like there’s no tomorrow, getting drunk and stoned every night, and waking up next to strangers on a semi-regular basis. Since her ex betrayed her and broke her heart, she’s been trying everything she can think of to numb the pain. When she goes out onto a cliff in Santa Cruz early one morning to watch the sun come up (a comforting ritual that she turns to throughout the book), she runs into Tony. Soon she discovers that he has been watching her come out to admire the sunrise for a number of days, and has just today decided to join her.

With the blazing sunrise as a backdrop, Sam and Tony get to talking, and realize that they have more than just their backgrounds in common, and for the rest of the day, conversation flows like water between them. Sam is brought back to reality quickly though, as Tony confides that he does have a girlfriend back in Los Angeles: Angela. Sam starts spending more and more time with Tony, falling deeply in love with him, when Angela decides that she’s had enough and needs Tony back in LA with her, Tony has to decide whether he’s going to go back to his needy, obsessive girlfriend and try to fix what’s left of their relationship, or stay with Sam and leave Angela to deal with her self-destructive ways.

Ms. Casher writes an interesting tale of choices that have to be made, and why they turn out the way they do. It’s not a predictable love story, by any means. It’s painful at times, and there were parts where I wished I could reach into the book and shake the characters and ask them why they had done such a thing. Having a novel play on my emotions like that doesn’t happen often, and I commend Ms. Casher for the power of her writing. The interesting thing about this book is that it forces you to examine consequences. It’s easy to sit back and say “well, I wouldn’t have made that choice,” but there are so many details mapped out in this novel that right away you realize how making one tiny choice differently could easily end in drastic shockwaves felt by others.

All in all, "When Love Isn’t Enough" was quite an enjoyable book. Some more conservative readers may be put off by the casual drugs and drinking in the book, but if you can get past that, it’s an interesting spin on growing up and learning some difficult lessons. I was quite surprised by the ending, and in retrospect was stunned how my opinion of the characters had evolved throughout the book. Ms Casher makes effective use of language, doesn’t pull any punches, and brings forward a great story. The ending neatly leaves room for a follow-up novel, which I would certainly pick up. As an added bonus, "When Love Isn’t Enough" is a great deal right now...only $0.99 for Kindle! Expect to get pulled in by this one when you do pick it up. It grabs you and doesn’t let go until long after you’ve closed it and put it aside.

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