I Love You To Death

When Ash loses her boyfriend, she is consumed by grief, loneliness, and an overwhelming sense of guilt for her role in not only his death, but the deaths of everyone she has ever loved. Refusing to let anyone in for fear of losing them too, she becomes withdrawn, spending her days reliving the nightmares from her past.

Until she meets Luke.

Initially scared by his intensity and interest in her, Ash tries to push him away. But as Luke slowly starts to chip away at the walls she’s built, Ash finds herself doing the one thing she swore she’d never do again – falling in love.

When the familiar feelings Ash had hoped were long buried with her past begin to resurface, she is forced to ask herself if falling in love again is really worth the risk.

278 pages; Romance/New Adult; 2012

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Clare from “The Time Traveler’s Wife”. Katniss from “The Hunger Games”. Elizabeth from “Take This Regret”. Lou from “Me Before You. Jude from “Night Road”. Off the top of my head, these are the women whose stories continue to devastate me. When I nonchalantly picked up “I Love You To Death”, I did not expect to add Asha to to my list.

I don’t know if I just didn’t read the cover teaser with care but I was completely unprepared for the emotions that I experienced every time I picked up where I left off. From the opening scenario to the closing one, I flip-flopped between the overwhelming sadness that Ash carries with her – as a burden, as a shield, as a reminder, as a warning – and the hope that Ash can truly be happy and live a life free of fear with Luke.

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Ash has been touched by death twelve times and it is with a heavy heart and a guilty conscience that she cannot escape the feeling of culpability of each loved one that was taken from her. Both her parents, her only brother, her future sister-in-law, one set of grandparents, two of her best friends, her aunt, her boyfriends, her therapist – all snatched away by causes could be linked directly to Ash in some way, be it a suggestion to try out a new dating site, an overlooked nut allergy, a car accident after a night spent entwined in one another’s arms.

The twelfth loss was that of her beloved Sam, the one person who held her heart and her hand at each funeral since he entered her life. Suddenly, there is no one of extreme importance left for Ash and she makes the conscience choice to shut out the world, praying it will out death as well. Limiting herself to home and work at a book cafe, Ash cannot bear to allow herself to become close to anyone, though others may try.

Enter Luke, a coworker who, unbeknownst to Ash, has been waiting patiently in the wings for her to look up and notice him. He is a math geek gone guitarist (and singer and lyricist) in a band with his best friends, a loving older brother to Mia, a chef at the cafe, and a rare find. Aware and sensitive to Ash’s latest loss, he never pushes her, never pressures her, never wants more than she’s ready to give.

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I was appreciative of the slow pace of their love story. I respected Luke with great admiration for the way in which he chose to approach Ash; not with hesitance but with an understanding that most young men simply don’t have the patience for. I can’t remember the last time I claimed another fictional boyfriend (Gilbert Blythe for the win, always) but Luke is pretty far up my list now. I couldn’t find a single thing about him that irritated me so obviously the pretty and pretty amazing guy needed to have a haunting past of his own, one that moulded him into someone any girl would cherish from day to day.

(note: I would have liked more passion in the intimate scenes instead of the insinuation and the fade to black; it would have been the perfect balance against the melancholy feel of the read as a whole.
edit: The author fixes this in the next two books. No complaints there!)

Ash has one of the most fragile backstories I have ever come across. Each chapter explored Ash’s healing process and the deliberately unhurried progress in her relationship with Luke. Sprinkled in were the details one of particular death Ash endured, its placing well calculated because it wasn’t all handed to you at once. I felt my body tense every time she left me on a cliff and I never strayed from the knowledge that it must be a terrible burden to carry so much weight of the world on your shoulders.

It sometimes took Ash many years to find the links in the chain of how she was inadvertently involved in what ultimately took the lives of so many people in her life. With each discovery, the fear and the guilt grew monstrously and she carried them both with her for an incredibly long time. When Luke changes every day life for her, will Ash be able to finally find a way to free herself enough to really live? Or will there be a thirteenth addition to her list of bones?

As the reader, I ached and wept for her. I was grateful to Luke for edging his way in her life and her heart and I admit that I continued on with the series to assure myself that I no longer had to worry about this fictional character that I had grown to adore.

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This will make your heart hurt and hope. It will make you want to look up every song Natalie handpicked for each chapter. And it will make you appreciate life and love even more than you already do.

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screen-shot-2016-04-04-at-10-56-54-pm{ Note: These are the songs handpicked by the author to introduce each chapter. So this may be a playlist I haven’t put together but I didn’t need to come up with one because this is genius. }

1. The Kill (Bury Me) – 30 Seconds to Mars
2. One – U2
3. Cut – Plumb
4. Running Up That Hill – Placebo
5. A Beautiful Lie – 30 Seconds to Mars

6. Bad – U2
7. Straight Jacket Feeling – The All-American Rejects
8. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
9. Count On Me – Bruno Mars
10. Make It Without You – Andrew Belle

11. Dakota – Stereophonics
12. Talking To The Moon – Bruno Mars
13. Punching In a Dream – The Naked & Famous
14. Hurricane – 30 Seconds to Mars
15. White Blank Page – Mumford & Sons

16. Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars
17. A Modern Myth – 30 Seconds to Mars
18. Fall at Your Feet – Boy & Bear
19. Infinite Arms – Band of Horses
20. I’ve Got This Friend – The Civil Wars

21. Friends – Band of Skulls
22. To Whom It May Concern – The Civil Wars
23. Lay It Down – The Rubens
24. Girls Like You – The Naked & Famous
25. Bloodstream – Stateless

26. Undisclosed Desires – Muse
27. Unchained Melody – U2 version
28. Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran
29. Alibi – 30 Seconds to Mars
30. All You Wanted – Sounds Under Radio

31. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
32. Done All Wrong – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
33. Wait – M83
34. Everything Will Be Alright – The Killers
35. 100 Suns – 30 Seconds to Mars

36. Tongue Tied – Grouplove
37. It Ends Tonight – The All-American Rejects
38. How To Save A Life – The Fray
39. Savior – 30 Seconds to Mars
40. TImshel – Mumford & Sons

41. Everlasting Love – U2


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  • “Since I found the letter I’ve found other things he did around the place. Little things I’d never noticed before, because I guess I’d always been too busy looking at him. Now when I look in the bathroom mirror, I see the cheesy little heart with our initials in it that he drew in the corner with my eyeliner pencil. Now when I roll over in bed, I see the words goodnight Ash written on the side of the bedside table in black marker pen. The same words he whispered to me every night before pressing a kiss to the back of my neck. He did this for me. All of it he did for me, because he knew exactly how I would feel when he was gone and he wouldn’t be here to make it better. It makes me love him even more.”
  • “Yours huh, you think you own me?” “No it’s really you who owns me Ash.”
  • “Music is an escape for me these days and sometimes I think it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s hard to believe that a combination of sound and silence can have such an effect on you. But it can. And it can affect you in ways you never thought possible. It can make you smile. It can make you cry. It can make your heart stop and can make your heart race. It can make you feel things you never even realised were inside of you. And it can stop you in your tracks before you even realise what’s happening.”
  • “Every situation you find yourself in can go in any number of different possible directions. All it takes is one little trigger and something changes. One thing which at the time might seem like nothing important but actually, has the power to change everything and that change can be good or bad.”
  • “See, crazy about you. He can’t take his eyes off you Ash. You’re all he sees. He’s just waiting for you to see him. Everyone can see it Ash, everyone but you.”
  • “I never realised what wanting someone was really like. The power it holds over you, the way it can make you feel, the way it completely messes with your brain. It’s like the biggest rush, the greatest high, where you can simultaneously feel like you’re floating and falling and you don’t ever want it to stop.”
  • “They had such a beautiful life together my grandparents, true soul mates who had a story like something out of a movie. I can still remember, even from when I was young, the huge amount of love and joy that flowed between my grandparents whenever they were around each other. It was beautiful to watch and even though I was a kid, seeing it was some of my most favourite memories of them.”
  • “I would dance with you anywhere.”
  • “Being in love is the strangest and most exhilarating of experiences. Strange; realising you’re unintentionally, so totally under the control of someone else. That you would give up anything and everything for that person. That they are all you think about, night and day. That you just want to spend every second with them and you miss them when they’re gone. That just being around them is enough, but to smell, touch, taste is so much better. That they would do anything for you, just as you would do anything for them. That it can destroy you, the idea of losing them. But wanting them this much, can almost destroy you too.”
  • “He does see me. He sees the real me, everything I’ve kept hidden, everything he has slowly been unravelling. All of my secrets and all of the pain I thought I’d buried. Luke has somehow unearthed it, seen it and not run.”
  • “Despite everything I’ve lived through, it’s ironic that the one thing I’m scared of in life is death. Of course, I’ve always been petrified of the death I’ve created, the death I’ve caused, but deep down the one I’m most afraid of, is my own. I don’t want to leave yet. I haven’t done enough, seen enough. I haven’t had enough chances. But most of all, I haven’t been able to fix all of my mistakes. When you live with as much fear and regret as I do, it’s terrifying to think of how it might all end, what my punishment might be. I don’t believe in any God, how could I, but I am scared at what awaits me, at the thought I may have to face them all again. That I might actually have to explain myself to them.”
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