Since I left school, I have the same New Year’s resolution every year: to read more. And yet, every year, December comes around and I realise I haven’t completed even one book. Anyone else relate? However, after almost a year in lockdown, I had to turn to books as a source of entertainment and found myself re-reading my favourite books which gave me the encouragement to seek out new novels to add to my collection. Naturally, I consulted with my best friend (who is an avid reader, to say the least), and she recommended what has become one of my top 3 books of all time: Out of Love by Hazel Hayes.
Out of Love tells the story of a breakup in reverse, starting at the end and gradually making its way to the first time the (ex)couple meet. I thought this was quite an original idea which I’d never read or seen anywhere else, and by the end, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a more common narrative. By working backwards, the latter part of the book becomes incredibly bittersweet for the reader as you have read about the demise of the relationship, which followed by the sweet naivety of the narrator when the couple had first met. All of the ‘first-time’ moments become clouded by knowledge of the fallout, which makes the novel a highly emotional read.
Without giving specifics away, the problems that the relationship face in the book are interesting to read and may leave a lot of people feeling that these issues are really relatable to them. For example, the narrator retells the moment that she realises her boyfriend has fallen out of love with her – which is harshly contrasted later on when she retells the moment that she realised he was in love with her. Ouch. The other topics include mental health, cheating, mothers-in-law, long-distance… at least one of which may be relatable to some people.
Besides the emotional impact of the book, I also really enjoyed the author’s writing style. I am 100% guilty of reading one chapter of a new book, not being fully hooked, then putting it down never to be opened again. Or, forcing myself to persevere with a novel and it feeling more like a chore than an enjoyment. However, neither problem occurred with this book. I was hooked to the point of staying up until 2am one night as at the end of one chapter I’d just *have* to know what happened next, so told myself ‘just one more’ (which naturally became about eight more).
So overall, I really recommend this novel if you’re looking for a gut-wrenching read that you just can’t put down. I imagine it may also be therapeutic to someone going through a breakup themselves, serving to remind us that there is usually not just one thing that breaks a relationship up, but a series of issues that gradually contribute to the fallout. I’ll be lending this book to all my friends, and I can’t wait to read more Hazel Hayes.