Synopsis: When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.
So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.
Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.
But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.
And love is supposed to hurt.
Sarah isn’t a likeable character, in the sense that she represents those parts of myself I don’t like. She is incredibly, heart breakingly relatable, and anyone who disagrees has never been told by a friend that they are being selfish.
It’s an incredibly raw insight that Sarah has. It’s grounded, fueled by pain and unapologetic. Even when Sarah convinces herself of things that will come to pass with her relationship with Matthew, there’s part of her that knows that she is kidding herself.
While I didn’t like Sarah I’m aware that what I don’t like is part of the situation she’s in, so I loved her as I would a friend. I’d be there for her and help her through her pain… If she’d let me.
Matthew on the other hand is almost a shadow character; we don’t get to know much about him. This gives this character a two-fold purpose; it represents the shallowness of his intentions with Sarah, but more importantly, Matthew is a symbol for anyone who has been treated in this way and the wonderful thing about this novel; I no longer feel alone in it.
The narrative is this wonderful non-linear exploration of Sarah’s life with, and after Matthew. It gives a real sense of PTSD from the almost sociopathic relationship Sarah found herself in.
The resolution won’t a satisfying end for some people, but believe me, it’s so very real that it will haunt you for days after you finish the book. It’s not the ending anyone would want, especially Sarah. But as a reader, we have to remember, it’s not the end. It’s just the conclusion of this part of Sarah’s journey.
Louise O’Neill doesn’t give us the books we want, she never has. O’Neill gives us the stories we need, and she does it so well that you will almost forget that the subjects in which she writes about would feel like a chore under anyone else’s penmanship.
With Almost Love, O’Neill gives us a strong voice that struggles to keep to social expectations and provides us with a look into a world some of us would never venture into without detracting from the narrative.
Its a wonderful third novel from the talented writer and while I will always wait impatiently for her next offering; I can’t deny that they are always worth that painful wait.