Love, Secrets, and Absolution by K. L. Lovely

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is K. L. Lovely’s second novel, and it is her first book published by Globeflower Books, an imprint of The Globeflower Agency, LTD.  Love, Secrets, and Absolution is the story of Grace, her husband, Paul, and their son, Alfie.  The story follows the family through Alfie’s birth, Paul’s affair, which causes an immediate split, and the trials and triumphs Grace and Alfie experience as Alfie grows up and lives life through the filter of a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Before I discuss the content of the book, I must mention the copyediting.  I am not known for my meticulous attention to correct grammar.  I’ve always been more concerned with content; I can easily miss, or consciously overlook and forgive, errors in the mechanics of writing.  However, the poor editing in this book distracted from the story and did a disservice to the author.  The many run-on sentences and missing or misused commas made the text frustrating to read.  Also problematic were some issues with subject/verb agreement, poorly used exclamation points, cumbersome adjective use, and generally stiff, awkward sentences.  As an example, in this excerpt there are numerous obvious errors:

“Paul looked on proudly as he watched his newborn son cradled in his wife’s arms, they were a vision of health and loveliness. Grace and Alfie appeared content and within the moment, it was as if no one else in the world mattered to either one of them. They were one, as though the umbilical cord had never been cut. He knew for certain it had, for the midwife asked if he wanted the honours. Paul didn’t hesitate at the significant event of cutting the cord which supplied his son with nutrition from the blood of Grace. However, he predicted that the bond between them might never break, and an invisible umbilical cord would forever remain. Paul could not take his eyes off them, he looked at Grace, his eyes full of love and joy.”

In defense of the editing, I am reviewing an ARC, and some of this may very well be addressed in the final copy.  However, with errors so prevalent, and it being so close to publication when the ARC was received, it is unlikely many of these mistakes will be corrected. 

Regarding content, I believe the author was attached to her story and tried to make it as gripping and emotionally powerful for the readers as she could.  There are many well-written children’s and adult books available to readers looking for character-driven stories, especially if they are interested in characters with neurodiversity.  A few I can think of off-hand include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig.  Each of these books handle their stories and characters brilliantly.  Love, Secrets, and Absolution has a much more limited appeal than the books mentioned.  The writing in this book will put off most readers; it simply isn’t that good. 

Many chapters of the book are written from Alfie’s point of view.  The first of these begins with his birth.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to write a birth scene from the baby’s point of view. However, I couldn’t help but laugh during Alfie’s description of his birth.  Though unintentional, that same comic feeling is repeated over the first few years of Alfie’s life during his narrated chapters.  The randomness of the vocabulary he uses in contrast to the words he doesn’t know follows no logic.  Moreover, his basic descriptions of what he sees and experiences, which appear to be written to inspire wonder and show a child’s view of the world, come across as funny, misguided, and ultimately irrelevant.

In addition, if you are going to read this, you will be repeatedly pummeled with the notion that Grace is an angel sacrificing her very life and physical well-being for her child (to an extent, this is what all decent parents do).  In contrast, I don’t think you can find one good man in any feature role in the entire book.  I won’t even discuss the gaudy ribbon used to neatly tie up all the character’s problems in the conclusion and close the book on a final note of absolution.

Typically, I wouldn’t finish a book like this, nor take the time to review it.  However, I agreed with the publishing agency that I would do so and cannot give anything other than my honest opinion.  It isn’t easy to review a book you don’t enjoy.  I can understand and appreciate all the hard work that went into this book, especially by the author.  I do value the time she spent working on her story, and I believe that she will find some readers who enjoy this book.

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