Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
3* – made of glass
Straight up, this is a weird review. I finished this book with really mixed feelings, but I genuinely would encourage other people to read it, particularly you Lizzie if you’re reading this.
It’s a story about 3 very damaged souls who just needed one woman to SEE them to understand themselves. It’s a story about how love and shared experience mean more than blood and comfort. The characters are just…awesome.
Blake, Cole and Beckett are brothers in everything but blood. Fostered together, they’ve been through some pretty dark times. Beckett, as the oldest, turned to crime, making himself the biggest, baddest bastard out there so he could protect and care for his brothers. Cole turned to the church for comfort and forgiveness and Blake…well, Blake is fascinating and it’s around him that the story revolves.
Blake is homeless. Every day he sits on the platform at Poughkeepsie Station where he waits for Livia to smile at him. She seems to be the only person on earth that actually SEES him. To everyone else he’s something to make fun of, or just plain invisible. He’s a prickly character, full of pride but damaged beyond belief. He can’t walk in the sunlight because he’s deluded and thinks he’s made of glass, a sight so terrible that no person could love him. They finally meet when some guys on the station start picking on him and Livia steps in to protect him. It sparks the most original love story I’ve read in a while.
The thing I kept coming back to was how real the characters are, even though they’re totally unbelievable. I know that doesn’t make sense, but read it and you’ll understand. They’re all…more somehow. Larger than life. They make your heart bleed.
Kyle, Livia’s sister, is responsible for most of the laugh out loud moments in the book with her wisecracking comments and total lack of understanding of personal space. As a supporting character, she’s brilliant. She has so many flaws…she throws herself into sack after sack with inappropriate men to cover up how bad she feels about her mum leaving, but she knows what she is. She knows and she can’t help herself. I wanted to hug her. Sometimes it seemed like she was more invisible to the world than Blake, or at least the real Kyle was.
With such a stellar and original cast, it’s hard to find myself only giving the book 3*, especially considering it didn’t have any of the typos or grammatical issues that have so bugged me of late. My issues with it were structural ones. That and the arrival of the dreaded insta-love the first time Kyle meets Cole. That was just…silly.
When I say there were structural issues, I couldn’t quite get my head around the way it was written. The first third of the book is about Livia and Blake and when that comes to a natural conclusion you think that the story will turn to the next brother, but no. It goes to the other brothers and then wanders in and out of a protracted situation between Livia and Blake. It got to the end of the book and I still felt very strongly that Ms Anastasia should have written it almost in 3 acts. The stories are so separate. The people are so individual. The love stories are so powerful. They deserved to have their own space to shine and never quite got it.
I absolutely loved the character of Eve. She tore my heart into pieces with her history and her screwed up relationship with Beckett, and then Ms Anastasia goes and fouls it up with making it just a little too coincidental. There’s actually a lot of that in the last bit, like Blake finding an uncle suddenly. It’s weird that she felt the need to tidy up all the loose ends like that because the end of the book is so damn bittersweet it’s like inhaling molten sugar. Sweet, but Christ…it burns all the way down. Without giving anything away, it’s not your average fairytale. Continuing with its theme of realism, not everyone gets a happy ending.
There were some sections of the book that just seemed to meander about aimlessly for a while. It was a little strange. It’s not until much later (and when I say ‘much’ I mean about five days after finishing the book) that some of the random details make sense. Not enough to justify all the meandering, but the odd flash of insight that adds depth to the characters. Like Blake’s obsession with manners – you don’t really notice it much, even when he talks about his manners as a child, until it suddenly strikes you that he speaks as though he lived 100 years ago. He never gave up on his manners because they matter. It’s sweet.
On the whole I really enjoyed most of it and I’ll be downloading Ms Anastasia’s other books. I would recommend this one – I think it’s something that will appeal to people in different ways. Some will absolutely love it, others will hate it and some will be like me…torn down the middle.
It rates a 5* on tears (Mouse, oh Mouse…my man…*weeps*) and a 4* on chillis (that scene with Beckett and Eve…*fans self*)