• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Out of Love by Hazel Hayes

I loved the idea of a relationship story told in reverse, but Out of Love touched on weighty topics that seemed to warrant deeper exploration than was possible within the structure.

He stopped loving me a long time ago but wasn't brave enough to tell me.

Out of Love is a love story told in reverse.

The beginning of Hazel Hayes's Out of Love lays bare the painful end of a couple's relationship, and each subsequent chapter shifts backward in time to an earlier point in the couple’s time together. Hayes unravels the couple's path from final heartbreak, through a few ups and downs in the middle of their relationship, and finally to the start of their thrilling and beautiful beginning--and their first sparks of love.

I love this premise, and I was hooked by Hayes's idea. But I'm not sure this story is particularly suited to the structure. Out of Love is not light fiction. Hayes explores meaningful and weighty issues: mental illness, emotional and sexual abuse, controlling manipulation, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, miscarriage, constrained desires and sexual identity, and more.

In skipping from scene to scene without significant page time linking the various phases of the relationship, I felt like I was tracing disjointed moments without an exploration of the external or internal reasons for important changes and shifts. Certain nuggets of information were revealed along the way, allowing for some illumination about (sequentially) earlier motivations for actions taken in the later time periods (which I had read on earlier pages). Because of this setup for the structure of the book, I had trouble connecting to the characters and their journeys. Meanwhile, the carelessly cruel, selfish, emotionally distant behavior that occurs at the end of the couple's years together (but was presented on the first pages) lurked like a dark cloud over the entirety of the book. I was sad that I didn't get to enjoy any swooning first-love moments without the crushingly depressing implosion looming over it all.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you enjoy reading books that play with time, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Fascinating Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories and the Greedy Reading List Six Riveting Time-Travel Escapes.