Sunday, 25 March 2012

My Only - by Sophia Duane

My Only by Sophia Duane
Published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop

Adam James’s life is far from perfect. A talented drummer from a small suburb of Chicago, he keeps to himself, downplaying his abilities, thinking that he is less than all those around him, including his popular twin brother, Aaron..

When a free-spirited new girl with a troubled past moves in across the street, Adam’s eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities. Olivia Cartwright’s philosophies on life give her a deeper understanding of the world. An instant connection between Adam and Olivia draws them closer, but he wonders why anyone would choose him when a better version exists, particularly when Aaron also takes an interest in her.

Will the friendship with Olivia change Adam, or will he continue to close himself off in his own world?

Adam has a choice to make: risk his friendship with Olivia or fight for something more. 
It seems Adam has a lot to learn about love….and life.
I started this book believing it to be a romance. When I opened the first page and realised it was also of the young adult variety, I groaned, even worse. So, I was surprised as I turned the pages, at the depth of emotion and the sensitivity evident in every aspect of this book. The teens represented in the pages are broken, damaged. Even, apparently well adjusted and popular Aaron… All of them have faced death at an age when they should have been invincible. They had faced death but had not dealt with it, because after all, “how do you process that?”

My Only, is also the story of a love triangle that divides twins, pits brother against brother, fact against theory (this analogy is brilliant) and sadly there can be no winners. The angst between the brothers is well rendered as they vie for the love of the new girl in town.
Adam is “theory”… He likes a girl, but does nothing about it.
Aaron is “proven fact”… He likes a girl and “acts”.
They are twins and have been compared all their lives but it is their differences that alienate them now. That, and Olivia. One is inherently nicer than the other and I’d like to tell you that the good guy wins… But that would diminish the actuality that makes this story especially profound.

I came to a point in the story where the conflict was such that I couldn’t see a way forward for the brothers as a family unit, if either if them continued in their pursuit of Olivia. It seemed that neither brother was going to be able to accept the other being with her, and have it be believable. It was only through the quirky and honest character traits of our heroine; “Experience. People. Figuring things out. Being a good person.” Those are the things matter to her, that this crisis is successfully overcome and Sophia Duane should be acknowledged for this.

Don’t fooled, it’s not a happy story, but it’s not overly heavy either. Reflective… And philosophical? “Life’s too short to let sadness overpower you for long periods of time”, is a major theme of the novel but that doesn’t quite encapsulate it either. It should be triumphant but it’s not. It’s much more complex and rightfully so. I think Adam best describes the overall emotion of the novel when he said “The thought I’d just expressed felt heavy and I wished I’d felt lighter after having released it, but I didn’t.”

I loved almost everything about this novel, except the epilogue. I am characteristically never ready for those and contrarily to the ideas expressed in My Only I didn’t want to make my peace and move on. I found myself wanting to process it!

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