Reviewed by Mandi
This is a difficult book for me to grade. Romance books can put you through hell, but at the end, you know there will be a happy ever after. This is definitely a romance book and the two men fall in love and are in love at the end. But the forever part – I’m worried. Melanie Hansen dives deeeeeeep into Bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
Loren and Eliot met in the first grade and became best friends. Eliot was always a little different – obsessed with the moon and sometimes having manic ideas. These two remained friends through their teenage years, both realizing they had feelings for each other. They fell in love, but this love was going to be put to such a test throughout their lives. The older Eliot gets, the more his moods fluctuate. Some days he doesn’t get out of bed. He turns to alcohol and drugs. When he is seventeen, Loren catches him giving a blow job to score some cocaine. This devastates Loren, and he flees. Later that night, Eliot attempts suicide.
Loren and Eliot are apart for the next nine years. Loren goes on to become a police officer, and Eliot’s stability is as shaky as ever. They randomly meet one night at a strip club where Eliot is dancing and Loren is undercover with a case. Loren can’t believe his eyes when Eliot gets on stage. The two reunite and Loren decides he’s still in love and doesn’t want to leave Eliot again. Eliot has been in and out of mental institutions, and his disease will test their love to the very end.
I commend this author for writing Eliot. She never sugar-coats his illness for the sake of the romance. Eliot is sick, and will be for the rest of his life. There are some days he wants to fight and live. There are other days he wants to die. She highlights the struggles on his family who have to be there to pick up the pieces when he goes into a downward spiral. You can’t monitor an adult 24/7 forever. At some point, you have to let him live his life, and for Eliot that means very highs and very lows. I really think this author captures what it must be like to struggle with bipolar and depression. Even in the epilogue, Loren talks about the most recent low Eliot had. It reminds the reader that their “happy ever after” is going to be a struggle, but Loren is in it for the long-haul. Eliot’s dark days are very, very dark. Sometimes as the reader, you feel like there is no hope for him – but I think it’s important to feel that way. It’s hows just how serious his struggles are. This author shows Eliot can fall in love, and be loved, but this does not always equate to happiness.
I’ve completely neglected Loren in this review. He is a solid guy who always wanted what was best for Loren, but as a teenager, you don’t always have control over that. As an adult, he is able to intervene in Eliot’s life more and try to get him the help he needs. There is not a lot of angst in the love department in this book – Loren struggles with Eliot’s condition, but you know he is up for the challenge. I could have done without Loren’s police work being featured, and I do think Loren goes back to Eliot when he sees him those nine years later really quick. But otherwise, he is Eliot’s rock and a very sweet guy.
You might not be 100% smiling when you finish, but I think it will have an impact.