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Let the Lover Be Paperback – August 19, 2014
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About the Author
While her obsessions constantly rotate and evolve, Sheree has an undying love for hot sauces, red wines, and crunchy tacos. She plays less-than-mediocre electric guitar but makes nearly-perfect guacamole.
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Top Customer Reviews
A street-smart, book-smart, hot-blooded drunk incapable of making a good life decision, Kiana Lewis is a train wreck in a tank top, barely clinging to a job as a Web designer for an urban non-profit. A "sordid mess" (as she styles herself on page 121) who has yet to encounter an opportunity she couldn't ruin, Kiana's greatest triumph in life is elevating not giving a damn to a rarefied art. Endlessly testing the patience of her gentle but stern and long-suffering sister Karyn, Kiana is running from the emptiness in her heart left by the loss of her mother and the absence of her father (a man the sisters refer to, with bitter wit, as "the nameless donor").
When her ex-girlfriend Michelle apparently switches teams and becomes a has-bian, getting engaged to the wealthy and handsome Michael, Kiana's jealous insecurity boils to the surface. Taunted by the curiously mixed signals Michelle sends in the form of a wedding invitation, Kiana impulsively buys a ticket to New Orleans. Their first encounter does not go well. Kiana drinks herself into a blackout and wakes up in the apartment of an elemental force of nature named Genevieve. Despite and because of the complicated mutual attraction between them, Kiana declines to reveal the truth behind her presence in New Orleans, and continues her mission. Drama ensues.
Amid a pageant of tacky behavior and questionable choices, Kiana slowly discovers that she has come to this town not to confront Michelle, but to confront her own demons . . . and that unless she does, she will never set foot on the path to recovery. Let the Lover Be delivers exactly what it promises: a satisfying story wrapped in an examination of sub-cultures that exist within sub-cultures, where marginalization is easy to internalize. The best part of this book is Greer's insightful and closely observed descriptions of human behavior. It's sexy, poignant, filled with recognizable and cringe-worthy moments, and not without a dash of humor. ("Quiet down," Kiana admonishes Michelle during a heated discussion in a hotel bar. "We're scaring the white people.")
I like damaged characters. I think they tend to be the most interesting. And as damaged characters go, Kiana is a doozy. She's the kind of friend you love to party with, but not the kind you can trust or rely upon. You always hope to meet someone like her when you're out having a good time, but you always dread dealing with someone like her as a partner, a family member or co-worker. There is one in every group. (If you don't know who the one is in your group, it's you.)
Greer probes the soul of a protagonist injured by the hollowness and uncertainty of life, constantly seeking refuge in mindless abandon, demanding pleasure without expectations, or defaulting to numbness. The author deserves a lot of credit for making the reader care about a figure so realistically imperfect. Kiana is rendered in terms that are often unflattering but never unsympathetic.
I think our deeply conflicted relationship with irresponsible, reckless, self-destructive and entertaining characters like Kiana Lewis mirrors our paradoxical dual roles as warm, breathing human beings on one hand vs. productive members of society on the other. As employed adults with bills to pay, we are forced to operate in a world of standards, accountability and consequences. As the unfettered spirits we wish we could be, none of that would matter. We would soar above it all, liberated from the shackles of conscience, flipping the world a double bird as we turn backflips through the fragrant mountains of eternal now extolled by Cummings. In other words, as infuriating as Kiana's childish, selfish behavior may be, we are secretly envious of her freedom. We resent the fact that we can't shut off our sense of obligation or mute our better judgment the way she can.
Let the Lover Be is a portrait of a woman at war with her own nature as she struggles to follow a crooked, uneven road to the redemption she doesn't believe she deserves.
Going by all that would make sense in an ideally rational world, I should not have found my heart aching for main character Kiana or rooting for her to find her way out of her troubled world. She is irresponsible, self-absorbed, sex-obsessed, taunts a recovering alcoholic's sobriety and takes the longest time to see ex-girlfriend Michelle is not (and never was) the woman for her.
But Kiana's also deeply suffering, terribly missing her dead mother, grateful to her always-there-for-her sister and (when sober) able to see all the goodness and light in Genevieve, a wonderful woman she meets when she travels to New Orleans to try and stop her ex's wedding. Sheree L. Greer's writing (her dialogue and vivid portrayal of character, especially) is just amazing! She leaves the reader spellbound even when things become almost too much to take, plus she accomplishes that rare feat in fiction: makes a rather unlikable character likable.
Having finished Let The Lover Be and struggling to do it the justice it deserves, I find the title makes much more sense and isn't as jaded or detached as I thought in the beginning. The title and ending are perfectly in spirit with all that happens, though I sincerely hope we someday to get to find out the rest of Kiana's story.
I did not like Kiana at first. Not one warm fuzzy to be found for this selfish, sorry character but I soon found myself pulled in by Greer's well strung sentences and the mental mess of this character. I repeatedly caught myself pausing every few pages and gushing over her word choices and her complete understanding of New Orleans 'speak.' As a native, I could easily hear Genevieve's New Orleans accent and casual use of the word "baby" at every turn. The descriptions of the city were on point (loved the reference to the mediocre Gretna skyline!) and she didn't use a lot of unnecessary words to let the reader know she had done her research.
My disappointment was in the fact that the book simply wasn't long enough. Greer said exactly what needed to be said, no fluff or fillers. But as all wonderful writers tend to do, Let The Lover Be left me hungry for more.
Excellent writing. Dark, deep, and at times painfully real story but so worth the read! Can't wait to see what's next from this amazing author. A sequel, perhaps??