47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching story about love on many levels
I first read this book many years ago in the throes of a Brooke Shields obsession. (Brooke played Jade, the female half of the teenage couple, in the 1980s movie version of this novel.) I was really expecting a cheesy teen romance, but this book is not exactly that. The main character, David, is Jade's high school boyfriend and the majority of the book takes place when...
Published on March 28, 2010 by Privacy, Please
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a love story
Scott Spencer must have been bemused when this novel was embraced as a moving story of first love, but then, why argue with success? As many have noted, however, it is a very unsatisfying love story because the object of David's affection is not on the scene for most of the story. Spencer comes right out and tells you as early as page 39 that our friend David Axlerod...
Published on October 24, 2009 by Barbara Klein
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching story about love on many levels,
I first read this book many years ago in the throes of a Brooke Shields obsession. (Brooke played Jade, the female half of the teenage couple, in the 1980s movie version of this novel.) I was really expecting a cheesy teen romance, but this book is not exactly that. The main character, David, is Jade's high school boyfriend and the majority of the book takes place when he and Jade are broken up, so Jade is present through much of the story only as a memory or a fantasy of David's. Therefore, a lot of the romance is taking place in David's mind, and since he's not the most stable of characters, you have to wonder. Throughout the book other people, including Jade's mother, David's high school classmate, and others comment on their impressions of David and Jade's past love affair, thus providing a curious Rashomon-like effect. You have this teen couple who were so much in love they were oblivious to everybody else, yet everybody else was still very much noticing them.
David, to put it bluntly, is an obsessed stalker. Flashbacks tell how, in high school, he fell in love with Jade, the daughter of a permissive, neohippie (nowadays they would be called "new age") family. Jade's family allowed her and David to share a bed, with all that entailed, in the family household - if you grew up in the 60s and 70s you'll realize that this was definitely NOT the norm for high schoolers at that time. Jade's mother is secretly unhappy over being reminded of the passionate young romantic life she no longer has with her husband; Jade's father, who the book suggests is more traditionally disturbed by his little girl's having sex than he wants to let on, eventually bans David from Jade's bed and indeed, the whole house. David reacts by spying on the family in their home and then by setting fire to their house, supposedly planning it to be a small fire that will allow him to get back into the family's good graces by warning them. Unfortunately, the fire goes out of control, and although David does help rescue Jade and her family (who incidentally are all on acid that night and barely make it out alive), his arson is discovered and he is locked up.
David is let out on the condition that he not contact Jade or her family. However, he loses no time seeking them all out. The family are now scattered due to the parents' divorce, but David is able to reconnect with the mother, Anne. Eventually, through a tragic event, he meets Jade again and the two continue their relationship, only to break up again, this time for good, when she discovers his role in the aforementioned tragic event. The book ends with David once again alone and obsessed with his memories of Jade.
I mostly enjoyed this book because of Spencer's gift of writing poetic prose. None of the characters are very likable; both David's parents and Jade's parents, despite being vastly different economically, socially, and in their approach to life, are similarly bummed out over the state of their marriages. Anne appears to relish having David's attentions all to herself, and one gets the impression that David in bringing her marital troubles to a head was as much her "white knight" as he was Jade's. As for Jade herself, she's not actually in the book as a flesh-and-blood person to get a good sense of what makes her so attractive to David that he'd risk imprisonment in a mental institution just to be near her again. For that matter, you don't get a sense of why Jade would want to get back together with David, although you can see that her high school relationship with him may have been partly a rebellion against her father. All the characters seem to be in love more with the idea of love than the cold hard reality of dealing with the ups and downs of a relationship. David and Jade are channels for the feelings that the others can't express.
This is not really a love story - most girls reading it, especially young girls, would see David's arson and singleminded pursuit of Jade as being crazy and creepy, not romantic like a Heathcliff to Jade's Cathy (Jade doesn't have enough actual personality to be a Cathy) or an Edward to Jade's Bella. It's more a story about love as a concept, and on that level, it succeeds remarkably well and provides much food for thought.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding, breathtaking, truly unique experience....,
I too thought this book was "my little secret!" How wonderful to hear from others who feel the same way. One of the few books that have truly broken my heart - I felt changed after I read it. My ideas on love, obsession, living, family, and madness - all were altered by Scott Spencers' suberb, unduplicable writing stye. The intensity of his emotional and physical descriptions, coming from the viewpoint of David, leave you breathless and yearing for more. A masterpiece novel - one of my all time favorites, 15 years after first reading it!!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid yet deep,
This book is much more complex than simply a love story--it's a novel swimming in social, political and literary themes that are brilliantly all tied to the very real emotions of a love affair. The way that David and Jade's respective parents represent the polarity of post-war rebellion--Jade's are emotional rebels while Davids are social--make the meaning of the character's love more than insular.
In fact, whether Spencer did it subconsciously or not, I think that the primary purpose of the book is to show how obsessiveness is simply THE way that humans live now. David's constant rubbing against institution masquerading as his friend-- the hippie parole officer, the "progressive" psychiatrist--shows how we are simultaneously bound by the same systems that we like the think we broke free from, but at the same time given a taste of something much more satisfying. A great emotional reality that we find ourselves obsessively pursuing.
This book is much more than a romance novel. The 30-page sex scene in the middle is proof of this. What Harlequin novel would portray the insecurities of the characters as they make love so vividly, would be so frank about their physical limitations and roughness.
This is horrible, beautiful novel, which should be far more revered than it is.
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a love story,
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Scott Spencer must have been bemused when this novel was embraced as a moving story of first love, but then, why argue with success? As many have noted, however, it is a very unsatisfying love story because the object of David's affection is not on the scene for most of the story. Spencer comes right out and tells you as early as page 39 that our friend David Axlerod cannot even tell the truth about his favorite color much less describe his complex emotional state. David does not know how to tell the truth. Yet, he is our only witness. By the end, his perceptions are so faulty that you really do not know what is going on. In David's final encounter with Jade (wonderfully ironic name), she is terrified. David's explanation for her behavior simply makes no sense. By this time the reader has been given enough clues to know that David is not the innocent lover he pretends to be. The reader has to try to figure out what is really happening from what other people do, (the behavior of the police, for instance) rather than from David's perception of it, because he is insane.
The focus here is not love but the shift in cultural norms that took place in the sixties which left everyone unmoored by any shared value system. David's parents represent what amounted to the serious ethical stance in the fifties, the socialist ideal. Secular humanism was the religion of the educated middle class. David's solipsistic "love" for Jade and her hippy family demonstrates the limitations of an ethos rooted only in human values. These people are not looking for love; they are looking for god. But god, as Time Magazine would soon announce, was dead.
The interesting thing about the book is the way Spencer uses the narrative to show this. That is one reason, I think, that this book did not really age well. All of these games with unreliable narrators have been played out by now. It does get tedious after a while when you cannot figure out what is actually going on, and this book definitely suffers from that fault in the final chapters. You can do all these pyrotechnics with literary devices, but you still have to give the reader a coherent story. If you want to enjoy Spencer's narrative cleverness, I highly recommend his more recent novel, "Willing." In that book he manages to combine his narrative strategies with a very funny story that may or may not have "really" happened, whatever that might mean in the context of a fictional world.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a different thought...,
This isn't going to be a very long or thorough review. Others have written very excellent reviews that are worth looking at. I just wanted to add one thing I didn't see anyone had written about yet. This book IS heartbreaking. So much so I wouldn't recommend it for someone who easily succumbs to emotions, depression, etc (unless you would like to be of course). This book has wonderful but I could never bring myself to read it again... Its dark, upsetting, and it times, I don't know, a bit ridiculous? As someone who gets very involved with books, the characters, story line, etc. all the good points of this book never even stuck with me. Just the profound, sadness, dark feeling I got when finishing this book. Obviously many people have loved this book & are also drawn to this type of literature. Its only a warning... it just left me with an upsetting feeling I couldn't shake.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Emotional & Intense!,
This book is wonderful. It touches you on so many levels. This dark love story really tinkers on an obsession rather than a true love story. The story is very deep, emotional, consuming, at times depressing & desparate, intense & complex.There are pages & pages of a detailed and explicit love making session. There are many poetic lines and verses in the story. You feel David's love, obsession, passion & eventual loss. David never gets over Jade - he cannot let go. Never. He simply can't. The book is written from David's point of view - only. We never know what Jade is thinking or feeling about David. There is not alot of character development for Jade & she makes her appearance half way through the book. We never hear her side of this story. How does Jade feel about David? Is she in love with him & as obsessed as he is with her? What is it about her that makes him act so crazy & desparate? We never really know. Which is a shame.
I wish more was written about David & Jade's earliest days together, when the meet and start the passionate relationship. Parts of the story seem missing, alot of time lapses, too. These are teenagers, not adults, who are too young to deal with a love & sexual relationship this intense & overwhelming.
This is a very sad story. Don't read it if you are feeling depressed or getting over a break up yourself. The last few lines of this book are heartbreaking, it leaves you feeling empty, sad & yet at the same time, not wanting the book to end.
I would really recommend you reading this book.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting story of love gone wrong,
By A Customer
I read a lot of books.
I love to read, and my selections cover a wide spectrum - everything from Shakespeare to the much maligned Harlequin romances. But never, ever have I read anything that can compare with "Endless Love".
The gorgeous prose hooks you in from the first sentence and doesn't let up until the last line, when you're holding the book with shaking hands, wondering how to let it go. Because this is one of those rare stories that *won't* let you go. The characters - David, Jade, and Ann in particular - take root and germinate inside you, never to leave again.
David's description of falling in love and losing that love are part of the universal human experience. David merely got caught doing what a lot of us have done. Unable to let go of what others dismissed as a teenage romance, he clings to his memories of Jade and her family until the world views him as unhealthy. And maybe he is. But the reader is so convinced of the depths of his love for Jade, that being with her is the only way David will ever be happy, that we side with him, becoming his partner in crime.
The 30+ page love scene some 200 or more pages into the book is a masterpiece. I've read countless sex scenes and *none* compare to this one. It borders on becoming an out of body experience.
One feeling I was left with was that perception is everything in this story. David believed his relationship with Jade to be worth everything. Jade loved David, but essentially could live without him. They viewed their bond in very different ways.
Take a chance on this modern classic. If you've ever been so much in love that rules no longer applied, you'll walk away from this book forever changed.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heartbreaking and unforgettable.......,
I am so pleased and surprised to see how many other readers have experienced, and been moved by, reading this book. I can honestly say that no other book I've ever read has had the same impact on me as "Endless Love'-and its been many years since my first reading. The beauty of this novel is that it can be enjoyed on so many levels-emotionally, intellectually, and, on the very surface, for entertainment. It covers a wide array of emotional ground, and you'd be hardpressed to find a reader who can't find something in it that they identify with. Certain sentences and passages literally took my breath away. The novel is truly original in that it chronoicles a love story and it's long reaching and dark aftermath without ever delving into sentimentality or cliches, it's definalty a far cry from the typical boy-meets-girl color by numbers plot. In fact, the origins of the relationship it focuses on happen off-camera, before the novel even begins, so we're left with the perceptions and memories of the characters (which may or may not be reliable) in order to construe the real facts. But, as the main character notes, what is factual is not always what is true, and the contradiction between reality and perception that runs throughout the novel only adds to its overall impact. The novel also suceeds in creating David, a protagaonist whose sanity and morality are at times highly debatable, however, he is written with such honesty and detailed insight that it is impossible not to get swept up in his journey and care about what happens to him. Despite all his recklessness and its abyssmal results, I could not honestly blame David for his decisions. While he broke the rules of society, law,and logic, he remained truthful to his heart, to point of insanity and despair, and any reader whose ever given, received, or yearned for the idealistic and maybe impossible endless love he strives to keep will find this book both heartbreaking and unforgettable.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intense Trip to Nowhere,
By A Customer
After reading Men In Black, I decided to give this "classic" a spin. Interestingly, my opinion is largely the same.... Spencer's characters don't change much from beginning to end, so for those who expect a book to be a journey, you could be disappointed. However, I don't disagree with any other review in the slightest... I had a lot of trouble putting this book down, and the emotions were of an intensity that's hard to find in a book... There's also a lot of interesting undertones about the psychiatric community... ie: releasing David when his moral character is arguably at its most dangerous. This is an excellent read... just don't expect a wonderous journey from point a to point b... It's actually point a to point a, but a fun time getting there.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome and powerful writing,
I first read Endless Love when it first came out in 1980, but probably would not have had I seen the unfortunate film adaptation first. That would have been a shame, as this book was truly unforgettable and has become one of my all time favorites. Had it not been for the badly made film, this book would still be in print and would have become a modern classic.
I have read it several times since it first was published, and am saddened to find it is no longer in print.
Spencer's writing is astonishing in its depth of feeling and the beauty of its prose. I am not a big fan of romances in general, but Endless Love is so honest in its depiction of a romantically obsessed young man that for this I make an exception. If you've ever been deeply in love, much of what is described will be painfully--and wonderfully--familiar. Trust me: this is no Harlequin romance. You will not find cliches or sappiness here. The few[physical] scenes, while explicit, are never trashy or shallow. In fact, they are necessary to truly bring to life the depth of David's feelings for his lover, Jade. These scenes are long and powerful. The type of love David experiences transforms the mundane to the poetic, the disgusting to the beautiful. ...
So are David's scenes with Jade's wordly mother Ann. The emotions in these scenes are astonishing, powerful, and many-faceted. We get to know both characters intimately, and while we could fault them for their immorality and lack of good judgment, we realize they are desperate--and both desperately miserable. They can't help what they do, so we can forgive them, and sympathize with them.
David is nearly constantly in tears or plotting to find the girl he can never forget. His misery is so intense it is almost a tangible thing. (Don't read this if you don't want to feel depressed). His traditional Jewish parents love him but do not understand him, or his obsession. Frightened and concerned about their only son, they they throw away Jade's letters "for his own good," which turns out to be the worst thing they could have done. Those letters were David's only tangible evidence of his shortlived life with Jade--and he literally falls to pieces there in front of their kitchen sink.
The saddest thing is the disparity between David and Jade's lives after the fire, and after David is released from the hospital. Jade, evidently, was able to move on and create a life for herself; David cannot--will not--let go. David is part of her past, a teenage romance, and she could take or leave him; to David, Jade is his only reason for living. Yet he is not a stalker in the sense one normally associates with that term. He never becomes violent or abusive in his efforts to win her back; the violence is only to himself. He is his own worst enemy, and he never is able to realize that, and move on. Witnessing the slow disintegration of his mind and soul is a frightening and tragic thing.
If you are able to get your hands on a copy of this book, grab it and read it! ... Spencer's writing style alone is reason enough to read Endless Love. I have read some of Spencer's other books, but this is by far my favorite.
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Endless Love by Scott Spencer (Hardcover - August 12, 1979)
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