Friday, March 29, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW - "Big Boy" by Ruthie Knox

SUMMARY from Goodreads

Meet me at the train museum after dark. Dress for 1957.

When Mandy joins an online dating service, she keeps her expectations low. All she wants is a distraction from the drudgery of single parenthood and full-time work. But the invitation she receives from a handsome man who won’t share his real name promises an adventure—and a chance to pretend she’s someone else for a few hours.

She doesn’t want romance to complicate her life, but Mandy’s monthly role-playing dates with her stranger on a train—each to a different time period—become the erotic escape she desperately needs. And a soul connection she never expected.

Yet when she tries to draw her lover out of the shadows, Mandy has a fight on her hands…to convince him there’s a place for their fantasy love in the light of day.

Big Boy is Ruthie Knox's novella found in Strangers on a Train.  

I simply love this novella.  There are some stories that just hit you at a visceral level; the writing here is so authentic, it speaks to my soul.  It is about a woman who world is turned on a dime and who is learning to adjust to/work with/manage motherhood and career.  In that transition, Mandy is trying to find out where she fits in this new reality. Motherhood can be so overwhelming - where the needs of the child have to take priority and the mother's needs keeps getting subsumed by all the task that are necessary.  And then there is the Ruthie Knox found the words, I do not know.  But I saw myself in this text:

I'm not a bad mother. Not usually.  But there's no room in my life for sick babysitters... Sometimes Josh gets the short end of the stick, but I console myself with the thought that I get it a lot more often...But when I'm at home with him, I'm a distracted mother, always trying to get away with as much work or as much cleaning as I can.  He wants nothing but me -- my attention, my love -- and I want to give it to him, only I want so many other things too.

Mandy manages to carve out a little of her own identity in a monthly rendezvous with Tyler.  Ironically, they met online and started their relationship with a roleplay and they never left it. A year later, Mandy is in love with Tyler but has no idea who he really is. She discovers that she wants more, something real from this relationship, but how can she tell him she wants out of their imaginary world? 

I found the premise of this story fascinating.  The idea that a relationship can begin in an pretend world, where neither of them have to reveal themselves and they can lose themselves is creative.  But as Ms. Knox points out that without truth based on reality, there is no foundation for trust - hot, heavy sex, yes; trust, no.  Misunderstandings abound and when Mandy wants something more, something substantial, something real, she has no idea if Tyler is on board. It is gut-wrenching. How they manage to work it out is moving and satisfying. 

This is not my first Ruthie Knox novella and I'm impressed at how she has masters the genre. How she manages to cover much emotional ground in a short space is beyond me.  Excellent and highly recommended.

Thank you to Ruthie Knox for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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