I was intrigued by this short novel when I read the description that it’s about a teenage boy having an affair with an older woman, and it’s written in second person from the boy’s perspective. Is he genuinely in love with her? Is she taking advantage of him? Is he using her? An interesting premise, to be sure.
However, this novel fell flat for me. There are not many characters in this story, but each one was depressing and pathetic. No one evoked any sympathy from me. The main character and the reader’s voice, Sonny, vacillates between two emotions: phlegmatic and confused or aimlessly angry. His lover, the moribund Vera, is suicidal and taciturn. Their conversations, or rather I should say, exchange of words, are terse and sparse. There is no relationship development, only an acquiescence into sex. Their “relationship” doesn’t even begin until halfway through the book, and then it just seems like a resigned inevitability. Even Sonny’s younger love interest, Sharon, is just desperate for attention. The entire book is just lonely.
I was grasping for meaning, and the only theme I could find was one of existential hopelessness. It’s dark and melancholy, but I still recommend it for readers who enjoy this type of morose psychological novel.
I thank Edelweiss, Karl Geary, and Catapult publishers for this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.