5 out of 5 Stars
*I was gifted a copy of The Man I Love by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Erik Fiskare enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together, having multiple versions of the plan for his life, and building things. He’s drawn into the theater, where he plans to specialize in set design and lighting. As a college freshman, the theater becomes his life, and it’s where he meets the beautiful ballerina Daisy Bianco. Their instant attraction goes well beyond the physical; Erik and Daisy are each other’s missing piece. Their souls connect on a level neither knew possible before, and now neither can live without the other.
Erik and Daisy’s tight group of theater friends is forever changed by a series of events that lead to a gun in the theater, lives lost, and devastating injuries. They each spiral out of control in their own way, until an unexpected betrayal forces Erik to leave school and cut all ties to his former life. But life without Daisy isn’t much of a life at all, and Erik must find a way to deal with his demons and face the past. The story spans fifteen years and the growth and changes that occur as Erik goes from college freshman to responsible adult.
The Man I Love is the kind of book that sucks you in right from the start and never lets you go. It’s a long book (590 pages in paperback according to Goodreads), but you won’t be able to put it down. This novel has a little of everything: love and romance, exploring sexuality, physical and emotional trauma, major character growth, betrayal, heartbreak, and forgiveness. It will pull your heartstrings in so many directions you won’t know which way is up. I’m not typically a huge fan of angst, but somehow Suanne Laqueur was able to make it okay that I cried big, ugly tears, because the story was so deep that those tears were necessary. And it wasn’t just once. I probably cried throughout a third of the book. The shooting and the aftermath were gut-wrenching, but it wasn’t until Erik and Daisy’s relationship imploded that I started to lose control of my emotions on a regular basis. I’ll spare you the full details and skip to the part where I assure you this is a happily-ever-after.
The character growth in The Man I Love is outstanding. Of course there will be some growth when a book spans such a large amount of time, but the things Erik has to face are not your run-of-the-mill college student problems. Erik literally goes from the happiest he’s ever been to staring down the barrel of a gun while his soul mate lies bleeding to death on the other side of the shooter. Even that isn’t the worst thing he has to deal with. It takes some time for Erik to hit rock bottom before he can begin to work his way back up. And let me tell you, his rock bottom plea for help nearly did me in.
Although the story mostly follows Erik, we get to know many other characters and go through their struggles with them. Of course there’s Daisy, and we see a lot of her quiet, contemplative nature through her relationship with Erik as well as second-hand information of her growth and changes. But there are also several other people we know intimately. The secondary characters all have a purpose, and we feel their struggles throughout the story as well.
While reading this novel, I was amazed to find out that not only was it the author’s debut novel, but also that she wrote most of it twenty years ago. The companion novel, Give Me Your Answer True, is Daisy’s story of the same time period and is due to be released on June 20, 2015. I am excited to see how much the author’s writing has grown, if that’s even possible. The Man I Love has already skyrocketed to the top of my all-time favorites. I honestly don’t remember the last time I read something that moved me so much. As soon as I reached the end, I wanted to start it all over again!
If I could, I’d give The Man I Love ten stars. This amazing journey is not to be missed.