The moving story of a woman holding on to romance while trying to save her troubled lover.
An ambitious work, Wallace’s debut novel tackles difficult subjects, including a soldier’s hidden scars from battle and the devastation of a hometown spiraling into economic disarray. Celeste grew up on tales her mother told her about Detroit being “the doe-eyed, fresh-faced belle of the nation’s ball.” However, as Celeste reached adulthood and the economy collapsed, her city “declined into a gaunt, overlooked old woman whose stringy hair was sown with weeds.” This dark backdrop sets the scene for an even bigger struggle when she meets Eddie, an Iraq War veteran whose overwhelming PTSD makes for a rocky relationship. As Celeste continues to fall for Eddie, hoping to cure him of his dark moods, she begins to suspect that there’s more to him than what she sees. Suspicions of him having an affair as well as dealing drugs begin to grow when she thinks she spots Eddie buying drugs from a nurse. Celeste’s concerns for her failing town and her secretive boyfriend come together when she learns that drug trafficking is at the heart of Detroit’s destruction. Yet she becomes even more determined to carve out a life with her boyfriend, although it means leaving her hometown and friends behind as she and Eddie relocate to Hawaii. Eddie chases his dream of opening a dive shop and reconnects with his young daughter, Rosalinda, while Celeste is forced to choose what will ultimately make her happy. Celeste’s tendency to lose herself in the people around her makes her a sympathetic, likable character, and her story, usually told in a straightforward manner, also features twists that take surprising and touching turns. Her complicated relationship with Eddie makes for an original romantic tale that’s timely and memorable.
A bittersweet tale that highlights the sacrifices people make for love, and at what cost.