I think I’ve lived this life before.
First, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the beauty and sadness of that cover. Here, you really can judge a book by its cover, because that combination of art, satire, and melancholy is exactly what is delivered in Sarah Gerard’s True Love.
This will likely be wrongly eviscerated, or at least under-appreciated, by the modern masses, who seem to only find validity in literary fiction that deals with disenfranchised people. Perhaps if the author’s biography and ties to the LGBTQ community was highlighted or placed at the beginning of the novel, so that we’re fully aware they have a deeper history of societal struggle than their character’s, it might be considered more favorably, or at least given a chance at objectivity.
There’s a certain authenticity that makes this book feel more memoir than fiction, which I quite like, as it resonated more deeply for me. Nina is exactly the kind of self-centered, self-destructive person who might spend long nights on the phone, complaining about her circumstances, while continuing the patterns, ignoring the advice of friends and her psychiatrist. She’s difficult to love, but at the same time remains cognizant of the particular maze in which she has found herself/created for herself. She is a woman trapped not by an oppressive system, but rather paralyzed by the options and unable to really start living in a way that is satisfying and true to herself– likely because she hasn’t defined who she is or what she values, or figured out how to cope with the reality of herself.
True Love is a searing look at what it is to be a millennial woman in 2020, and the myriad struggles we face– and, spoiler alert: it’s bleak. Gerard demonstrates a deftness with words and an acerbic wit as she handles her characters, though rather than judging or sugarcoating them, she gives them the freedom to be dislikable and narcissistic.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.