Broken Like This by Monica Trasandes
This literary debut by Monica Trasandes includes all the elements that make an absorbing read: lovesick characters, exotic locales, and an inevitable tragedy. Of course, this is not your classic love triangle; the twist with this novel is that the central character, Kate Harrington, is a bisexual who splits her devotion between Louis and Angela. Interestingly, Kate never seems to be torn between the two; in fact, she vacillates quite easily back and forth into their lives like it’s no big deal. Well, it may be no big deal to her, but the feelings Louis and Angela have for Kate are all-out, all-consuming, and totally passionate.
The story begins when Kate becomes injured in a traffic accident while traveling in Spain. Stateside, Louis waits for her return. But then he gets a phone call that his beloved Kate has been injured. He calls Angela because he does not speak Spanish and can’t understand the extent of Kate’s injuries. Angela, at first hesitant since it has been two years since she has even talked to Kate, reluctantly agrees to help Louis. This brings back a floodgate of memories for Angela, who has never really gotten over Kate. Thus the start of a novel that weaves back and forth between the present day drama and the years prior, when Kate burned the candle at both ends.
After Louis and Angela arrive in Spain, they inevitably become closer through their shared memories of Kate. Unconscious, but still hanging on by a thread, Kate remains hospitalized while the two friends try their hardest to get her transferred to a better hospital in Madrid. This part of the tale actually takes a backseat to the flashbacks of the Louis-and-Kate days vs. the Angela-and-Kate days. The reader is bounced back and forth like a tennis ball between the two sorrowful histories, wondering where it will all end up.
The jury is still out as to whether I actually enjoyed reading the book or simply endured it. Trasandes allows us to know the characters inside and out, but I’m not sure she needed to drag it out over 60-plus chapters. Plus, a weird side plot involving Kate’s stepfather is squeezed in, which felt a little forced and dramatic, and eventually annoying. I won’t be a spoiler sport, but to quote Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?” comes to mind when I wonder if the ending couldn’t have been a little more satisfactory. Sure, the loose ends are tidied up, but sometimes a messy love triangle deserves a bit more of a messy ending.
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