Back From the Edge

2 Stars

This story had a lot of promise. It seemed like it might go somewhere. Beyond the fantasy of love saving someone from ending their life, it could’ve been an interesting story but it didn’t grab me.

The idea that the dog just woke up in the morning and knew it had to take its owner to the beach was sweet but hard to get on board with. It would’ve been much more believable if Seb couldn’t sleep for some reason and had gone to the beach on purpose and then Honey had decided to drag him along to save this guy. The walk was clearly long enough for Seb not to walk home so it’s a big stretch to believe the dog from such a distance knew this was going down.

Philip’s story is believable to a degree. His father seems to have had zero problems doing things outside the house beyond getting the groceries and within a time frame that allowed him to have an affair and escape. It makes me question Philip’s time management skills if his dad could and had done it did he not pick up on that after 17 years of life? Also arguing with his mom for being late is a teeny price to pay for a moment away from her. Since none of her ailments were deeply discussed, and it’s clear she had many trips to the hospital which were all false alarms, at age 42 the doctor’s visits alone would force Philip into some sort of social interaction. That’s decades of trips to the store and the hospital. It’s almost like he isn’t really being held captive. 

I can admit that everyone responds to psychological damage differently so though odd it’s definitely still a possibility that even with some level of physical freedom he could be mentally imprisoned enough to not just run away like his dad had done. Still it just felt like he could grocery shop for her once a week and just come back when she ran out of food or needed a ride for her many doctor’s visits. Take care of her from afar seeing as he and the doctors knew she wasn’t sick until of course she finally did get sick. Also, he said they weren’t millionaires. I don’t see them both not working and paying for expensive doctor’s visits and cancer treatment without millions. Not even 1 million would last them 42 years under those conditions.

It’s just when you think about narcissists and controlling people and how they play emotional and psychological warfare with their victims, something about the way his mother behaved didn’t hold that level of complexity so it almost like she didn’t have the power, cunning, or intelligence manipulate him to the extent the book claims she did.

The story was just too easy. Too easy to read. Too sappy for a topic so deep. I got almost 70 percent into this short story and was still waiting for something to actually happen. When Phillip was crying and Seb, only because of the dog again, was led to his room, his first instinct is to lose his robe jump into the bed under the covers and hug him. I was all sorts of confused and slightly triggered. Considering they are strangers why didn’t he walk in, sit on the edge of the bed, prompting Philip to sit up and then, if Philip was okay with it, allow him to cry on his chest. If not then maybe just rub his shoulders, or rest his hand on Philips back soothingly as he continued to cry into the pillow/bed. Philip has quite literally only interacted with his mom and the doctors and maybe people to help him get items at the store. I’m sure being that traumatised and never having felt affection he’d have serious issues with being touched without permission and the appropriate thing to do would be to let him set the boundaries. When Seb’s first reaction was to quickly disrobe, naked, and then hop in the bed to cuddle that was where the book officially lost me. Then mentioning this in its ‘hard’ detail the following morning was just weird and only served to make an awkward situation worse.

For an insta-love story dealing with someone who is suicidal, severely traumatised and has zero social interaction skills this book read almost like Philip was merely a loner who was maybe contemplating giving up but not quite there yet. Seb wasn’t cautious enough for such a delicate situation and Philip come into his own self, after 4 decades of trauma too easy. And then somewhere around 68 percent or so Seb is holding Philip’s hand over breakfast talking about how he wants to get to know him better? As a person with severe anxiety and depression, it’s really hard for me to think someone about to jump the day before is now, never before having been in a relationship, so ready to fall into one. It’s equally odd that Seb is so aggressive about this as if this connection is more important than the psychological damage Philip would have to overcome to even be friends with him let alone lovers.

There’s something about this story that reads like your standard sweet guy down on his luck sad and probably even depressed, who gets picked up at a bar and in a weekend finds that maybe life isn’t so bad after all. It fits that sort of romance trope which would it have been easy to get on board with had it been styled this way. By framing it in something much much deeper the things that work in usual romance seem odd. It wouldn’t be that easy under such intense circumstances. Seb would have to work at it and teach him how to interact with people. Philip would probably get a job and have to deal with triggers that keep sending him back to ‘the edge’ metaphorically as he tried to find the will to live and Seb helped him navigate through the damage Philip’s mother had done. In order for this light, short, medium romance tale to work it needed a different framework, the source/foundation material was too intense for how the story actually played out.

That was it here. I thought I might’ve been overreacting, but other reviewers have said similar things, although much shorter than the essays I write. It had all the makings of something amazing but didn’t take itself seriously enough and probably should’ve toned down the trauma to match the tone of the writing. It might’ve been much more believable then but as it stands it definitely did not dig in enough to express the emotional trauma and how hard of a journey it would be to heal from that. Which would’ve needed more pages and honestly would’ve been a lot darker, but the payoff of seeing this relationship unfold would’ve been extra stupid-amazing. That’s a gritty psychological romance I would’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

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