An unexpected reunion with a lost love leads a man to re-evaluate his life and relationships in Duffy’s (Stockboy, 2013, etc.) third novel.
Timothy Anderson is a college student and aspiring novelist. Following graduation, he works at a movie theater, where he hopes to find a girlfriend. He answers a personal ad and goes on a perfect date with Melody. Timothy believes she’s his true love, but Melody abruptly disappears. Years pass, and Timothy meets Cindy. They move in together and struggle with money issues and family complications (Cindy’s dad is a compulsive gambler). Timothy never forgets about Melody though, and he finds her on Facebook. She’s married and has three young kids, but that doesn’t stop them from having an affair. As Timothy re-evaluates his choices and relationships, a series of events puts Cindy in danger and leads Melody to weigh her feelings for Timothy and her husband. Duffy’s protagonist is an earnest young man whose attempts at becoming a writer are waylaid by family troubles and making a living. Many readers may relate to Timothy’s succession of part-time or low-paying full-time jobs and his attempts to ascend the career ladder. Although they come from different backgrounds, Melody and Cindy are likable supporting characters whose family dilemmas mirror Timothy’s. The weakest element here is Timothy’s relationship with Melody. She appears only briefly at the beginning, and her character development is limited to their first and only date. Although the date ends well, there is little to suggest she shared Timothy’s passion. Their affair would have been more believable if she had a bigger role from the outset of the novel.
A finely observed character study flattened by an underwhelming romance.