Love can make the heart glow or plunge it into an endless night of despair. Returning to the land of the living is not a journey for wimps. The novel MUNCHING ON THE SUN opens a Pandora’s box of memories where evil might wear many faces, including your own.
“All the world’s a stage…all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances…one man in his time plays many parts,” said Shakespeare of the phases from childhood to soldier, love to justice. In MUNCHING ON THE SUN by Mark Paul Oleksiw, twenty-one-year-old Lukas, barely surviving his final year of undergraduate studies, appears one night on an empty stage, a young idealist no more. Professor Phillip Solterre finds him there, bloody and bruised. It’s 1 AM. Is there a better time to speak of forgiveness, sin, or love to a stranger? Though genial, it is obvious to everyone that a black hole resides at Lukas Wunand’s core. Something or someone has stolen his light.
“Your tale does not begin or end in one moment or with one act, I suspect. I want to hear about the full play,” Professor Solterre tells Lukas, suggesting whatever’s gone wrong has to do with a girl, as these kinds of things often do. And for Lukas, it’s true. Everything comes back to Kara. His shining sun. The girl he has not spoken to since he was sixteen. And so the story weaves Lukas’s past and present; his wars within and wars without. As frenemy Tobin quips: “The sun is not meant to be eaten by mere mortals.” Helping organize a buddy system, so no girl need walk around St. Peter’s University or home alone, only accelerates the memories crashing through Lukas’s carefully erected emotional barriers. At one point, he believes he sees Kara on campus; a place she couldn’t possibly be.
There is much to enjoy in this novel where the path to true love does not run smooth, such as Lukas’s nurturing relationship with an older, developmentally-delayed sister. However, the story often falls prey to dialog that rings false. It is a rare younger person who would say of themselves: “We are all still kids. Yes, kids do need to feel secure.” Overall though, MUNCHING ON THE SUN delves into interesting themes of evil and redemption, love and loss. Do Lukas and Kara reunite? Does the boy get the girl in the end? Readers will have to dive in and find out.
It is said a life without hope is a fate worse than death. Author Mark Paul Oleksiw takes a colorful cast on a VI Act journey towards reclaiming the beauty of life in the unusual novel, MUNCHING ON THE SUN.
~Cristina Salat for IndieReader