The title of The Law of Loving Others is a quote taken from Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, “But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.” It’s a lovely quote and an apt title for a book that discusses the relationships we have with different people; how we behave in our closest relationships and how the problems our friends and families deal with are the mirror we put up to ourselves, the way we assess our own lives. And so it is with Emma and how she deals with her mother’s breakdown over one winter break from school.
There seem to be a ton of YA books dealing with depression and mental illness that I’ve read lately (All The Bright Places is one example, good in every way) but this book is definitely at the older end of the YA spectrum. It was refreshing to read a frank account of how this teenager deals with something she has no idea how to cope with… the drugs, the fooling around with boys, the self-harming… it’s heavy stuff, but frank, and a bit more representative of some eighteen-year-olds and not quite so evasive about major issues.
That said, I found the language a little off at times and sometimes the book cuts off at interesting points and at other points it seems to go into too much detail about things I don’t need to know. It can be a little plodding… then he went there, then we got out of the car, etc. and could use a little better pacing and editing. I would rate this 3 stars from a novelist at the beginning of her writing career because I liked it. Not highly recommended but I might check out the author’s next work to give it a shot.
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