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From darkness to light, utter ruin to the highest joy, worthlessness to triumph--Dean Mayes' novel takes us through the biggest transformations a protagonist can undergo, and displays sheer beauty throughout. It's the kind of story that had me almost jumping up and down in excitement by the end, eager to cheer the characters on to their certain reunion.
Plotwise, it's a bit like, say, the film Sleepless in Seattle,* where the main question isn't "Will they get together?" so much as "Will they ever meet?"--or rather, "Surely they'll meet eventually, but when, and how will it go?" For Baltimore and Seattle, however, substitute Chicago and a small, gorgeous seaside town (Hambledown) in Australia. Plus, introduce a paranormal element. Andy, the young drug addict barely scraping by in Chicago, gets a wake-up call in the form of a near-death overdose, from which he wakes up with the distinct feeling that another soul has taken up residence in his mind. Indeed it has, and as the two souls become one, Andy turns his life around 180 degrees, and brings joy back into not only his own family but also to a heartbroken young Australian woman who's mourning her dead lover. Or is he really gone? Guess who that extra soul just might be...
Mayes writes addictive prose, fast-paced and even brutal during the action sequences (Andy knows some rough characters in his drug days), but lyrical and enchanting when the subject turns to love--or music. This is decidedly one of those novels that you long to have a soundtrack for, so you can hear Andy play that guitar with ever-increasing skill and emotion. Luckily Dean has taken care of that on his blog, giving us a playlist and YouTube clips to listen to. :)
Love is stronger than death, as yet another music group once put it, and Dean's novel explores that theme in beautiful ways that brought tears to my eyes more than once, and left me bubbling over with happiness at the end. Looking forward to more from this author, definitely!
* Another film it kind of reminded me of is August Rush. The guitar/music theme as well as the long-lost lovers made me think of it--but, strange as it may sound, Mayes' is less weird and actually makes more sense.