"You never got over her. You just left."
As a college freshman, Erik Fiskare is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage. The moment he lays eyes on a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful. It is a love story seemingly without end. But when a disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater, the story is forever changed. Six lives are lost and Daisy is left seriously injured, her professional dreams shattered.
Traumatized by the experience, the lovers spiral into depression and drug use until a shocking act of betrayal destroys their relationship. To survive, Erik must leave school and disconnect from all he loves. He buries his heartbreak and puts the past behind. Or so he believes.
As he moves into adulthood, Erik comes to grips with his role in the shooting, and slowly heals the most wounded parts of his soul. But the unresolved grief for Daisy continues to shape his dreams at night. Once those dreams were haunted by blood and gunfire. Now they are haunted by the refrain of a Gershwin song and a single question: is leaving always the end of loving?
The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma—physical and mental—and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik’s experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.
The Man I Love is one of the deepest, most beautiful novels I have read.
You've got love, hate, addiction, death abandonment, PTSD and so much more, all gently shoved into a story about a boy and a girl. You're not reading a book when you open The Man I Love, you're entering a whole different world, filled with these wonderful, realistic and beautiful characters.
This is more than a novel about a shooting, or about two lovers. It's about heart, it's about trust and it's also about dance. Ballet is the central point, how these characters meet and where most of them work. I've never been a huge ballet fan, but reading this gave me a whole new appreciation for the art form.
The supporting characters, Will, James, Eric and Keesja, amongst others, are so amazingly there, they make the story what it is as much as Erik and Daisy do.
Sexual orientation and how it was perceived in the late 80's/early 90's is also a big part of the book, as is Erik's acceptance of it. He goes from a boy who has a bit of a bad taste in his mouth about it to allowing Will and Keesja to slap his behind and make lewd jokes.
That's what, I think, is the biggest thing in The Man I Love: growth. Erik, Daisy and the others do a lot of growing during the decade this novel spans, and it's wonderful to watch in your mind.
This novel was excellently executed with a lot of care. Readers will know this and they will appreciate it so much more because of it.
5/5--a beautiful masterpiece!
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