what i liked: and before i know what i’m doing, before i can argue myself out of it, rationalize what a terrible idea this is, i’m walking toward the box office. i don’t want to see her, i tell myself. i won’t see her. i only want to hear her (p. 37).
the tremor in my hand has become so normal, so nonstop, that it’s generally imperceptible to me. but as soon as my fingers close around mia’s, the thing i notice is that it stops and suddenly it goes quiet, like when the squall of feedback is suddenly cut when someone switches off an amp (p. 56).
my mom liked to say that everything i’d done–from my mere existence, to becoming a musician, to falling in love with a girl like mia, to going to college, to having the band become so popular, to dropping out of college, to dropping out of the band–was a surprise…
“you working at the plant,” she said, staring at my solemnly. “this doesn’t surprise me. this is what i would’ve expected from a son of mine” (pp. 60-61).
“not in new york. the diner pies are such disappointments. the fruit’s almost always canned. and marionberry does not exist here. how is it possible that fruit simply ceases to exist from one coast to another?”
how is it possible that a boyfriend ceases to exist from one day to another? “couldn’t tell you” (p. 72).
i’m pretty sure there’s not going to be another postscript with mia, and i’m gonna have to live on the fumes of tonight for the rest of my life, so i’d like a little more to show for it than parking lots and arthritis and aborted apologies (p. 113).
“the faculty here will coddle you because of what you went through. i, however, am of the opinion if we do that, that car crash might as well have killed you, too, because we will smother your talent” (p. 123).
“i suspect deep down he’s doing this because he thinks by giving me a shot at a career, he’ll help me fill some void… but he doesn’t have to give me the career. that’s not what fills the void.”
and it’s like, mia, don’t you get it? the music is the void. and you’re the reason why (p. 126).
“bullshit,” mia says… “quitting’s not hard. deciding to quit is hard. once you make that mental leap, the rest is easy.”
“really? was that how you quit me?” (p. 182).
letting go. everyone talks about it like it’s the easiest thing. unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open. but my hand has been clenched into a fist for three years now; it’s frozen shut. all of me is frozen shut. and about to shut down completely (p. 189).
i’ve blamed her for all of this, for leaving, for ruining me. and maybe that was the seed of it, but from that one little seed grew this tumor of a flowering plant. and i’m the one who nurtures it. i water it. i care for it. i nibble from its poison berries. i let it wrap around my neck, choking the air right out of me. i’ve done that. all by myself. all to myself (p. 190).
and the music, it’s like, i dunno, fresh bread on an empty stomach or a woodstove on a frigid day (p. 201).
her hands were freezing, just like they always were, so i warmed them just like i always did.
and it was while i was warming her hands that i thought about how lucky it was that they looked okay. because without hands, there’d be no music and without music, she’d have lost everything (pp. 214-215).
what sucked: maybe this was intended and maybe it suits the characters, but it sort of plodded a long in places. then it got pretty good. then it got really cheesy and went back to plodding along.
having said all that: i did like it. it’s not a bad story. so much of it’s told with some well-crafted sentences. there’s poetry, even, really in the author’s prose. the characters are likable, too. it’s good. not great. but worth reading.