Review - "When Love is Not Enough" by Wade Kelly
Shattering, lovely, painful hopeful tale
Very Highly Recommended
When I ran across this book and saw it was part of the Bittersweet Dreams titles, and that the main character had committed suicide, of course I knew this would not be the happily ever type of book. And, to be honest, I had to wonder how Mr. Kelly would be able to make this anything but a depressing autopsy, or a couldawouldashoulda melodramatic weeper. I have read a couple of the Bittersweet Titles before and loved them (including "The Night Porter" by Sue Brown), but how do you make suicide...palatable?
This is a very personal subject. I have known two people in the course of my life that have committed suicide and loved both, one like a brother and one like a lover. Both losses devastated me. It is so hard on those left behind, as we struggle to understand the why and the how do we go on and the anger and the grief and try to remember the love.
So, I picked up this title with some little trepidation, and started. And got hooked immediately in this beautifully imagined and executed tale. Mr. Kelly has crafted a touching tale of love and hope in the face of pain and loss and tragedy.
This book, ultimately, is about secrets, large and small, of the heart and soul. It is also about the lengths we will go to and the things we will do to ourselves and to each other to keep and protect these secrets. And, most importantly, it is about the consequences of the fear those secrets inspire in our souls and how it kills us by separating us from those we love.
Jimmy and Matt have been best friends for year. Growing up together as neighbors and childhood buddies, Jimmy, or Jamie as Matt calls him (think early Van Halen of all things), have shared life and school and secrets, the biggest of which is that Matt is gay. Jimmy keeps this secret for Matt, since Matt's family is religious and would not tolerate having a gay son.
When Jimmy's parents separate and divorce, the family moves and Jimmy splits time between his mother's new home and his father's small place. Jimmy and Matt are still best friends, but the distance physically allows other gaps to form. And it is at his father's new home that Jimmy meets Darien.
Darien is all emo twink, the complete opposite of steady solid jock Matt. And Jimmy is fascinated. Intrigued. And drawn in. Darien is also gay. As their friendship grows, Darien becomes Jimmy's best friend too. But Jimmy doesn't share this with Matt. Although Darien knows some about Matt. Another secret kept.
When Darien is hurt by intolerant boys at his school, Jimmy's feelings boil over as does his attraction. Jimmy, it seems, has been keeping at least one secret of his own. One he shares with Darien but not Matt. And he acts on it. One more secret.
This heartbreaking tale jumps back and forth between high school and the present day, when the boys are out of college and starting careers. The book starts with the preparation by Matt for Jimmy's funeral, because we know he has killed himself. We learn, little by little, that Jimmy has been living a double, almost triple life. As have Matt and Darien, although in vastly different ways.
We follow Matt as he meets Darien. And we watch Matt learn all of Jimmy and Darien's secrets as he finds Jimmy's journals.
And our hearts just keep breaking. Secret after secret kept. Lie after lie told. Opportunity after opportunity lost. Hope after hope dashed. Until we finally find out the biggest secret of all - why did Jimmy do it. And then we bleed. We bleed for this beautiful young man. These beautiful young men. I can't give away why this tragedy happens, but I can say, it explains why Jimmy made the puzzling choices he did time after time.
This is Jimmy's tale, but it is also Matt's and Darien's. Because as this tragedy has already happened, these two meet and a new opportunity is presented. New choices can be made. New truths told rather than lies and secrets kept. New love shared rather than kept hidden. New hope allowed to grow rather than old pains to shrivel and kill.
And isn't that how it should be?
Give this remarkable book a chance. Mr. Kelly's voice deserves to be heard.