Tears of Paradox
Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 27, 2014)
Kindle: 1962 KB
Publisher: Daniella Bova; 1 edition (May 26, 2014)
Complimentary review copy
Available on Amazon
Faith, Love, and Dystopia
Tears of Paradox is told from the alternating viewpoints of a young working class couple, Jason and Michelle. Michelle's chapters are mostly stream of consciousness thoughts in the present, as she lives in the basement of an older couple, apparently in hiding. She is pregnant, scared, lonely, and often in tears, and frequently praying to the the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jason's chapters are stories of the past, of how he and Michelle grew up together and fell in love, and of their daily struggles.
Both points of view are told against the backdrop of a creeping authoritarianism that is bit by bit destroying their lives. An all-encompassing health law has empowered the government "sharks" to intrude ever more into everyday life. Michelle is telling the story from the end of it, when the sharks have already done their worst. Jason is telling the story from the beginning of it, as the normal challenges of life are turned into heavy blows by a malevolent government.
I liked how unabashedly religious the main characters are. Michelle is a devout Catholic while Jason starts out as someone who doesn't care much about religion, but as struggles wear him down he turns more and more to God. I also liked how realistic it felt - the day to day travails were familiar, and the added twists of government intrusion did not seem far-fetched at all. There is a deep sense of foreboding throughout the book.
I struggled at first with the structure and style. The storyline does not unfold as a regular narrative, instead memories and anecdotes are revealed out of sequence, often folding back on itself. Also I am not a big fan of being so much in the heads of the characters all the time, and yet, paradoxically, being kept in the dark about things the characters knows but won't say explicitly. I think readers who like literary fiction might enjoy that though.
Despite those complaints, I have to admit that Tears of Paradox kept me reading until the end. I just had to get to the bottom of the mysterious "notice" that changed their lives forever. Fair warning: you may feel yourself compelled to get the sequel as soon as you finish this book.
Reviewed by VM on April 5, 2016