Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
I actually had a hard time rating this book, because there were pieces I loved, and pieces I hated. Mental illness and mental health – I think its very important to mention that, since the MC is actually in successful therapy and making progress at controlling what has to be understood as a chronic illness – are the predominant themes of the book, much more so than romance. Personally I like reading about that, but it might turn some readers off.
Reid is a 20 year old young man who had been struggling with mental illness for years before he was finally diagnosed and started receiving proper treatment. He was a cutter – a behavior that left him increasingly isolated. The years he went untreated, and his eventual breakdown that led to inpatient treatment, created an increasingly difficult environment at home, where he was constantly reminded of his failures, and could not find a way to break out of that mold while living at home with his parents in Wisconsin, near his on again, off again dysfunctional boyfriend. His grandmother owned a condo in the Florida keys, and offered it to Reid so he would have a place to stay away from all the unhealthy influences at home, and have a chance to continue his recovery.
In Key Largo, Reid met Joachim who was teaching dive classes. Both men were instantly attracted to each other, but dating, much less forming a relationship, was incredibly difficult due to Reid’s illness. The fact that Joachim was a wanderer at heart and only in Florida temporarily compounded those difficulties. When they did commit to each other and admit they were each in love – way to soon as far as I was concerned – they continued to work through issues. The ending however, was pretty abrupt and unsatisfactory.
The author mentions at the beginning that this is an #ownvoices book, and I will be honest that I wasn’t quite sure what that was in relation to – was it ethnicity or mental illness? Although there are two MCs, Reid – white, American – is clearly the predominant character in the book. Joaquim is Brazilian, but to a large extent I felt that his character existed primarily to offset and highlight the struggles Reid went through, and that his character was not very well developed. The descriptions of Reid’s mental illness – cyclothymia – how it affected his behavior, his perceptions, and his interactions with others was detailed, but sensitive, and definitely one of the aspects I loved. Those descriptions were so well done, in fact, that it felt like the author must have lived through them – if not personally, then perhaps witnessing cyclothymia in a family member or friend. I don’t know if it was because there was so much focus on Reid’s condition, but I found that I couldn’t connect well with either of the MC’s, and the romance did not feel convincing to me. The fact that the book was written in present tense, however, is what really turned me off. I find present tense obnoxious, a little pretentious, hard to read, and it brought my rating down, but if other readers don’t mind alternating POV in present tense, this would probably be a more highly rated read.
Cover art by CB Messer is just lovely, and I thought the small size of the divers in a wide expanse of ocean really played up the title.
Interlude Press: store.interludepress.com
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 264 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Interlude Press
Original TitleA Tiny Piece of Something Greater