53 Letters For My Lover
Here’s a book that has been on my “TBR list” since July, and I totally should have read it sooner! That blurb sounded emotionally, romantically angsty, and I knew it would take me right out of my comfort zone (which I absolutely love, when reading). But somehow, I kept passing it up.
It had come HIGHLY recommended a few times…
Diane: I HIGHLY recommend 53 letters, me and my reading buddy can’t get it out of our heads a week later and there’s a free companion novella ‘From his lips’. Angst to the max and so beautifully written. Also surprisingly explicit.
Andee: I loved 53 letters too!!! **** is just so great…. That’s all I’m going to say.
Diane: 53 letters!! SO intense and beautifully written! Good thing my hubby can’t see this bc that and The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by Jojo are my 2 faves this year, he might be concerned LOL
Maryse: Yeahhhhhh 53 Letters sounds SOOOOO GOOD!!!!! Adding that one to the top of my TBR list…
Sophia: I loved 53 Letters for my Lover! I couldn’t put it down!!!
This part of the blurb totally did it for me. I just knew we’d be “in” for it, ’cause it has that “Arsen” feel, if you know what I mean (just not as tumultuous and… wrong-feeling). A much more understandable, gentle approach. And I know this reading subject matter is not for everyone…
…the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter. For thirty-three years, she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying dreams and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the one thing she has always been denied: love.
How could I not put it on my reading list? But I *squirreled*, and it’s only when I saw it mentioned again (in passing) last week on in my Facebook feed that I jumped on it for good. A reader mentioning to her friends… something along the lines that she couldn’t get enough of this one. She loved it, and I think she even re-read it. And once I finally decided to read it, I could barely put it down. Mind you, it took me about the first 30-35% of the book to really get into it (the beginning, laying down the foundation of their connections, their personal traumas, getting to know the characters, their customs, etc…). But once I hit that 30%-ish area, I was IN!
Amy: …started 53 Letters, which so far at 25% is good with a buildup between the past and present which is pacing well.
Maryse: I need more emotional action, angst and passion and intensity, right now… So now I’m trying 53 letters.
Amy: I’m at 70% of 53 Letters, and I have no idea how this is going to end. It’s definitely not on an Arsen level, but I’m still a little apprehensive as to if/when it is all going to blow up. Bracing myself here…
Maryse: …it’s good! First 30% is a bit slow as we get to know the characters and their connections, but soon after that it gets emotionally intense and pretty much stays that way (at least so far)…
Jean: I am just finishing 53 Letters For My Lover and I just love it! OMG I am feeling everything in this book… my heart is pounding….so different, great writing…yep heading for a book fog!
Amy: I can’t stand when a main character in a book gets cheated on by their guy, and yet I like to read books like Arsen and 53 Letters where the main character is the one doing that. But I’m going to steal Maryse’s tagline again: In books…ONLY in books.
Jean: I hate cheating! But 53 Letters is different….. I accepted it from the beginning for some reason.
Amy: I finished 53 Letters and while it was no Arsen (I swear that book has ruined me for all other books like it), and for me the angst wasn’t near as high, it still packed a good punch straight to the ovaries. Buh-bam! Both sides.
Jean: Oh and I can’t stop thinking about 53 Letters For My Lover…… and it’s days later… love when that happens!
Maryse: I ended up loving Letters to my Lover! 4 to 4.5 stars… (still thinking about it…)
So what’s it about?
A… sort of… “arranged marriage”. Two damaged souls with terrible scars that have yet to heal. Two members of Iranian families living in Canada (families that consist of loving members, and monsters alike), with customs, and expectations, traditions that are expected to be upheld, but for two “modern Canadian-Iranian” adults, hard to live up to. But they form a sort of friendship bond, in their marriage. A trust and an understanding. A love… albeit a different kind than the all-consuming love we love to read about. And yet, most of her young to adult life, she has crossed paths with “Troy” the arrogant Canadian “playboy” that just won’t leave her alone.
“Are you happy, Shayda?” A second. That’s all it takes. A single beat of hesitation on my part.
And she doesn’t know if she wants him to…
Here I am, ten years later. Troy Heathgate is at my door.
Let me in.
Sometimes I wonder how many worlds unfurled in that one second.
And how does one review a book like this? How can I love this kind of “love story” so much, when in essence, it is everything that is vehemently wrong, in a commitment.
Our eyes lock.
What is this madness?
I don’t know. I don’t know.
But I did. With it’s gorgeous writing, exquisite detail and a thoughtful, cautious yet raw exploration of something that is absolutely illicit. I say “gentle” in it’s approach compared to other books of this genre, but not so gentle that you don’t actually feel it. You feel it. BIG TIME.
You feel her.
“Then leave him,” he says.
“I can’t. I can’t just leave him. He needs me.”
Troy’s jaw clenches. “You can’t leave him. You can’t leave me. You can’t handle the in-between. What do you want, Shayda?”
You feel him.
“You think I like waiting on the fringes of your life, wondering when I’ll see you?”
With the kind of detail that allows us to feel every stomach-butterfly, smile and soar, and yet in her private thoughts, experience the guilt and shame of it all.
“Are you afraid, Shayda?”
“Of…?” I swallow, wishing he’d go back to pretending we’re watching music videos.
“Of this? Of me?”
“Of… me,” I reply.
It’s true. I don’t know this person lying beside him.
How can something so wrong, be so right?
They tell you that an affair destroys everything, that there are no winners, that there is only heartbreak. I know this. And still I do it. Still I take his face in my hands and kiss him until he returns my fierce, desperate kisses with a fervor that pushes everything else aside.
But in a way… it is. Both. Right and wrong.
And I’m going to let you discover that on your own. Come up with your own conclusions, experience the journey she took to get there, and the heartache and loneliness, the different kinds of love. It’s angsty, yet so eloquent in its portrayal. It hurts, it’s exhilarating… it’s traumatizing, it’s wonderful.
And my heart still aches. In a good or bad way? Ah ah ahhhhh… I won’t say. 😉 Shhhhhh…