Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Second Position by Katherine Locke

Alyona Miller is a famous ballerina. Zedekiah Harlow used to be a famous ballerina. Then the two of them got into a terrible accident and life as they knew it ceased. Alyona lost a baby, and her already fragile mental health. Zedekiah lost his leg and his girl. When the two meet by chance in a coffee shop after being estranged for years, they're both forced to come to terms with what happened.

And how they're going to proceed.

I don't read many second-chance romance type books. I think it's because part of the fun of reading a romance novel is seeing a couple discover themselves and their feelings for one another in a way that's shiny and brand new. Second-chance romance books are more about forgiveness and polishing or hiding the tarnish.

Aly and Zed have a lot of tarnish. I did like that they actually deal with it, though, rather than taking the passive aggressive route that many other new adult novels are so fond of. It was refreshing to see characters who got involved in one another's lives without being domineering or creepy, as well as actual, bona fide communication. Even during sex. Especially during sex. Can we talk about the sex, actually? (It was gooooood.)

The secondary characters in here are also well done. Both characters' parents appear in the book, and get involved in their children's lives (for better, or for worse). They have friends. Zed has students. Aly has a therapist and a couple contacts with whom she's remained in touch. All of these characters were extremely developed and added an extra layer of dimension to the story.

The book is also beautifully written - to the point where it is far more polished and sophisticated than comparable works being dealt out by much larger publishers. The desolate, but lyrical, prose is highly reminiscent of authors like Janet Fitch. That writing! It begs to be an embroidery sampler framed on a guest-room wall. I really look forward to seeing what other books Locke comes up with in the future, because she unquestionably has a lot of talent. I could see her doing something big, easily.

The only drawback to this story is that it feels remote. The characters have emotions but they don't quite make it to the page, which is disconcerting because of the first-person narrations. This is an emotional book, but the writing itself wasn't, and I feel like the characters did more "telling" about how they were feeling, rather than "showing." I felt removed from the characters when I wanted to connect with them, and that made it hard to really get emotionally invested in their well-being.

SECOND POSITION is still good, though. I enjoyed it - although the writing is complex enough that you're going to want to make sure that you have the time to devote to reading this in large blocks, while uninterrupted, or else it's going to be hard to follow what's going on. I'd recommend it to readers who are looking for NA with substance, or who enjoy reading realistic angst & hurt/comfort books. Plus, it's only $1.99 on Amazon (and the prequel is free)!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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