Verdict: A truly effective tear-jerker, HIATUS is a powerful tragic love story with deeply complex characters and resonant themes.
Read with a box of tissues handy: HIATUS will make you ugly-cry. This beautiful ode to late-in-life love is lyrical, captivating, and heart-wrenching.
Michael and Frank fell madly in love at summer camp in Arizona, back in 1974. But Michael couldn’t bear to come out to his tyrannical father, and when he met Nadja, he cut off all ties to Frank and led a quiet, suburban life outside of Copenhagen, raising two children with his wife. Frank is compelled to reconnect when he learns of Nadja’s untimely death due to breast cancer, and the two men have a brief window to rekindle the love that never diminished in either despite the many decades and life events in between. For soon after a new, possible future is considered, Michael learns that he too has late-stage cancer.
Author Belangela G. Tarazona’s writing is emotionally devastating and descriptively nuanced. The book is particularly strong in emotional scenes between Michael and his children—who have dramatically different responses to the unexpected events—and between Michael and Frank. The plot moves swiftly while focusing on the details of important scenes, and motifs of math, time, and light are strung cleverly throughout the novel.
The book’s only flight of fancy is Frank’s Aunt Emma, a dear relative who visits every other Thursday, despite having died many years earlier. Frank’s inner turmoil is portrayed through discussions with Aunt Emma (who arrives in a cloud of jasmine perfume and who Frank can actually “see”), an odd expository choice in an otherwise down-to-earth novel. While the dialogue is strong, many discussions appear over and over in different forms, particularly the one between Michael and Frank about why Michael didn’t fight for Frank’s love back in 1974.
The conclusion is not obvious, and even the most jaded readers will have a hard time finishing the book dried-eyed.
A truly effective tear-jerker, HIATUS is a powerful tragic love story with deeply complex characters and resonant themes.