Thursday, July 13, 2023

Today's read... The Quiet Part Out Loud by Deborah Crossland

With Summer sun comes time outdoors, and, hopefully, a moment to dive into a good book. And what's a beach read without romance? Since I do love a little tension, too, today's read caught my attention. It takes place in San Francisco and has an ex-couple run across each other's paths right before an earthquake hits. That sounded quite dramatic, so I thought I'd take a peek.

Let's see if this one will make the heart-ache or cheer for joy!

by Deborah Crossland
Simon & Schuster
YA Romance
352 pages

For fans of You’ve Reached Sam and A Heart in a Body in the World , this searing and heartrending teen novel follows an ex-couple as they struggle to reunite in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

High school sweethearts Mia Clementine and Alfie Thanasis had a plan to escape their town for college in the east. Mia would leave her hard-core evangelical home for Sarah Lawrence College, and Alfie would have a new place to pursue his three baseball, poetry, and Mia. But when Alfie got offered a scholarship to the University of San Francisco the same week the entire town found out about Mia’s mom’s affair with their church’s pastor, Mia’s world imploded and she pushed everyone away…including Alfie.

Five months after the worst summer ever, Mia is crashing at her best friend’s dorm at San Francisco State, just a few miles away from the University of San Francisco, praying she never runs into the boy whose heart she broke. And Alfie is trying to make the most of his freshman year while struggling to reconcile with the abrupt ending of his first love.

When Mia and Alfie’s paths cross for the briefest of moments, Mia realizes she never should have let him go and Alfie’s suppressed memories and feelings boil to the surface. But their reunion is cut short when a massive earthquake rocks San Francisco, leaving them to stumble desperately across the rubble in search of the ex they still love before the city crumbles—taking one, or both, of them with it.

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Emotions run strong in a tale of two teens, who realize how much they love each other just as the world crashes down around them and seems to guarantee they won't see each other again.

Mia can't believe her eyes when she walks into a San Francisco coffee shop for a job interview only to find her ex, and love of her life, walking through the door with a girl under his arm. She knew he had decided to attend a college in the city, too, but hadn't dreamed she'd ever see him, since she was going somewhere else. That she panics is an understatement, and after some back-and-forth, decides to do something crazy and call him. Although she has no idea where he lives, she prays his number, at least, hasn't changed. But just as he's about to tell her something he's wanted to say, an earthquake strikes. San Francisco buckles, causing disaster. Buildings crumble and fall. But Mia isn't about to let the chance for love slip by again and takes on the impossible task of searching through the destroyed streets to find him.

It wasn't until after I read this tale and the acknowledgements that I realized this is based, among other things, on the Greek myth surrounding Orpheus and Eurydice. Knowing that would have altered my expectations and better prepared me for the tone of this read. I jumped into it expecting more earthquake drama then is, actually, delivered...and less flashbacks. But this is emotional and does hit upon the trauma and chaos surrounding the earthquake as well, just not in the way I expected. 

The tale is told interchangeable between Mia and Alfie's points of views. The earthquake hits just as we've gotten a grip on who Mia is, keeping the beginning tense and grabbing. I was a little surprised that she headed out immediately across a city she doesn't know (luckily, a map is available) to find Alfie without a clue where he even is (I mean, San Francisco is huge), and all of that just after an earthquake hit, which is mentioned to be an around an 8 on the Richter scale. Buildings collapse around her, people are suffering along the way, and, yet, she finds time to first stop at the coffee shop and ask if someone happened to see a guy earlier that day. I found it a little crazy, but then, I do know teens and even adults, who might really do this. It's just it forced Mia a little out of arm's reach for me. However, Alfie made up for this, especially when the reason for his constant thoughts of Mia and his past with her come to light toward the end of the read. When I hit that point, I did feel for him.

This is a tale for those readers, who want to dive deep into an emotional romance with longing, heartache, and hope. Much of it comes through thoughts and memories of the past, which drive the regret deep and make the longing that much more painful. There's also the theme of Mia breaking free from her religious family, which adds more food for thought. Plus, Mia encounters several individuals, during her journey across the devastation, which also give depth beyond the star-crossed love and grab the heart and mind in other ways.

Most memorable, however, is the ending. It is unexpected and adds a sudden pull at the heart strings, which leaves an impression even after the last page is done. Romance fans, who love character depth and enjoy reaching for that tissue box, will want to grab up this read.

And here she is...

Deborah Crossland teaches English and mythology at her local community college, studies mythology and depth psychology in her PhD program, and writes myth-based, contemporary novels for young adults. She is also a founding board member of the nonprofit Fernweh Collective, which focuses on cultural education through experiential learning. You can find her talking all things myth on Fernweh Collective’s happy hour video on YouTube. She lives in Northern California with her husband and her daughter’s very spoiled retired service dog.

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