A chance encounter leads a young couple on the path to true love in this debut novella.
On the island of Aruba, a romance begins in an unlikely place. When he first sees her at the local grocery store, Tom knows there is something about Mary. He is captivated by her beautiful dark hair and eyes and understands at that moment he will always love her. At first, Tom’s parents dismiss his declarations of love as a youthful infatuation, since he is age 7 and she is 5. The two families are close, and, as the years pass, Tom and Mary meet for ice cream or walks along the beach. Despite their attraction, Tom learns that Shakespeare was right and “the course of true love never did run smooth” when Mary’s father accepts a job transfer on the other side of the island. They stay in contact, but Tom’s friends believe he should date other girls. He begins a romance with Jean, but he never stops believing he will reunite with Mary. When a twist of fate brings Mary back into Tom’s life, the couple is free to pursue a relationship if they can overcome their doubts and uncertainties about their future. Heyliger’s novella is a pleasant and briskly paced exploration of a bond from childhood infatuation to adult maturity. The most successful aspect of the tale is the author’s portrait of life on Aruba. Tom and Mary reside in a close-knit community that discourages children from doing anything that might embarrass their families. Heyliger conveys these characteristics through his descriptions of Tom’s and Mary’s families’ objections to them living together as an unmarried couple. His protagonists are likable, especially Mary, whose concerns about the long-term prospects of her relationship with Tom are relatable. At 43 pages, the narrative is tightly focused; however, there is a noticeable discrepancy in the size of Mary’s family. Initially, she is described as having “four brothers and two sisters,” but later Tom says Mary’s desire for a large family is because she “was an only child.”
A charming look at an enduring relationship.