There is something really special about Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington. The story and the writing drew me in so much that even though this is not my type of book, I wound up loving it.
As stated in an earlier review, I have not only joined Book of the Month Club , but I have been reading all the picks of Liberty Hardy. This was one of those picks! If you are interested in Book of the Month, use the banner below and the code SSK5 for a free bag, sunglasses, and $5 off a 3 month subscription. *Shameless sales pitch
This is the story of Rocky, looking back at his life, especially a few key points where his life changed. One was when he was 8 years old in 1977. Rocky is infatuated with his brother Paul. Paul is cool, listens to rock, and drives a Nova. Paul also is deeply in love with his High School girlfriend Leigh.
One day, Paul comes for young Rocky at school and takes him for a car ride to see Leigh. Following the car ride, Paul drives young Rocky out into the woods, gives him cigarettes, and beer. When Rocky passes out, Paul leaves him in the woods with the intent of letting Rocky die. Paul returns scared, drops Rocky off, and drives off. Rocky, their father (the Old Man), and Rocky's mother (Alice) as well as the rest of the neighbors are left behind in a wake of problems that Paul caused.
The story continues in Rocky's teenage years, where Rocky is now Richard and Paul's old flame is about to get married. I don't want to add any spoilers at this point, so I will leave it at that. We also move forward in time a few months after the wedding, when out of no where Paul returns after the Old Man has a stroke. Finally, there is a murder of two neighbors where Paul is one of the main suspects.
There is a lot that is going on in this book. It isn't only about the plot, but also about relationships. It isn't only about Paul and Rocky's relationship, but also about relationships between neighbors. The three main neighbors each represent a different aspect of life- one family is poor, one family is rich, and one family is powerful. The wedding is between the rich and powerful, but what happens when the past catches up and embarrassment overshadows one of the wedding party?
The writing is really what drives this book. I completely enjoyed Tarkington's writing and writing style. If it were not for the writing, I am sure this would have been another book and I would have not kept going until the end. His characters are so well defined and their relationships are so complex that there isn't necessarily a good choice or a bad choice for the characters. There isn't an easy answer- much like life.
I will admit I felt the murder/who done it at the end didn't quite fit. It seems to come out of no where all of a sudden and doesn't seem to fit the flow of the book. Eventually, it explains some of the choices the characters make, but the murder itself seems out of place.
I rated this one 4 stars for the wonderful writing and story.
Here is the Amazon link- Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington