Shayda Hijazi is a married woman, who loves her truck-driver husband and her two kids. Family is deeply important to her, and her life centers around her loved ones. However, she finds herself both physically and emotionally alone a great deal, not least because her husband’s painful past interferes with both their romance and their sex life. And when she meets Troy Heathgate, his playboy charm, brilliant blue eyes, and obvious desire for her set off sparks that threaten to ignite her safe and comfortable life. She can’t resist him – but she can’t bear to hurt those she loves, either. When her choice is complicated by a cancer diagnosis, she is faced with the painful knowledge that she must either give up what might be the love of her life, or do permanent damage to the family she cherishes.
Written in the first person as if the narrator were speaking directly to Troy, 53 LETTERS is an intimate, painful exploration of love, marriage, commitment, passion and family. Shayda’s struggle to reconcile her genuine love for both of the men in her life is touching. Attar never makes the mistake of oversimplifying either of Shayda’s relationships, or anyone else’s for that matter. There isn’t a character in the book that doesn’t have a history, a personality and at least three dimensions, and most of them are, at heart, good people doing their best to cope with emotions they don’t fully understand. There are a few other stories going on under the main plotline, and each of these has its own compelling energy, which supports and enhances the main story. The author’s descriptive abilities, and her powerful capacity to evoke feeling with a few words or the brush of a finger, make this book an intense experience – once opened, it is difficult to put down. The sex scenes are passionate, erotic and fiercely sensual. Little details – a pebble, a butterfly, the setting of a Nowruz table – are rich with meaning and emotional resonance. And while it certainly has its share of wrenchingly heartbreaking scenes, there is a thread of joy, love and delight that winds through the entire book, bringing light to its darkest places.
53 LETTERS TO MY LOVER is a powerful, beautiful, well-crafted book, a modern love story with a living heart and soul.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader