Friday, October 29, 2021

Book Review: Out of Love

By Jami Denison

“Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” is the standard three-act structure for a romance or romantic comedy. “Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl” is the structure for a drama or tragedy. In her debut novel, author Hazel Hayes decides to run things backwards. Out of Love, released internationally in 2020 but just out now in Kindle format for American audiences, starts with the painful breakup and then goes back in time all the way through a couple’s first meeting. Reminiscent of movies like Memento and books such as One Day, the novel aims to answer the question, where did it all start to go wrong? 

Out of Love is a first-person account, told in such a stream of consciousness that we never learn the heroine’s name. Her boyfriend is Theo, and when we first meet them, she has packed up his things at the end of their five-year relationship. The first few chapters are a very painful look at everything going wrong, at least from her perspective: His crush on a co-worker. His late nights at work. His preoccupation with the gym. His obsession with his phone. As the book goes back even further, we see everything else that has contributed to their break-up: Damaged parents. Abusive exes. Unresolved sexualities. At this point, the writing’s on the wall. Why can’t she see it?

Some books come with trigger warnings for sexual abuse, drug use, etc. This book should come with the warning that it will make you re-live your worst breakup ever. The first chapter is such a detailed exploration of all the pain the heroine goes through—the closet without his shirts, the ignored texts, the inability to eat, the badmouthing to friends—that I could barely get through it. At that point, I found the backwards structure a little frustrating, because after all that pain, I wanted to see more of the heroine. I wanted to know if she found a better partner than Theo, if she resolved the outstanding issues from her past.

Out of Love does not deliver the big twists that the novels One Day or In Five Years imparts. With reviews giving those comparisons, I was a little disappointed not to have a surprise at the end. But perhaps that is the surprise. When relationships end, looking back on them, their demises seem inevitable. In the beginning, though, they look like fairy tales. 

Thanks to Dutton for the book in exchange for an honest review.  

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

No comments: