Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Riven (2018) Roan Parrish

I’ve never been interested in reading a book about a rock star, which is why I had a really hard time starting this one. In fact, since I’d forgotten the premise when I started reading, I wondered why on earth I’d gotten it.

Theo Decker is a rock star and hates it. Not the music–he loves the music–but he hates being famous.

But then I got to the second character, and remembered why I’d snagged it when it was on sale.

Caleb Whitman had been a blues man of some renown, but in order to get clean he had to walk away from everything he loved: the music, the live shows, and the bars. Now he lives in the country, on the small farm he inherited from his grandfather, and works to stay clean and sober, only occasionally going down to the city to visit his sponsor and occasionally playing the guitar for himself.

I disclosed the thing that needed to be on the record before we could go any further. It would be painful if he left now; it would be unbearable if he stayed and left later. That, I could already tell. And it terrified me.

“Ah, no. That I learned in rehab. And NA meetings. And from my friend yapping in my ear over and over again.” Fucking Huey, all insistent on me being in touch with my feelings and shit.

I forced myself to glance up at Theo. His eyebrows were drawn together in concern, but he didn’t look disgusted by me, which was a welcome change.

“Yeah, I, uh, I kinda figured when I saw you were super successful and then disappeared. I mean, I might have looked you up. Online. On tour. A lot.”

Despite being a rock star, Theo is sweet and adorable.

Since Antony worked the night shift and I was often coming and going in the middle of the night, we ended up chatting a lot. Antony had to be about seventy-five years old, and when I asked him why he was working the night shift he got this look and said, “No reason to keep someone else out all night when I have nothing keeping me at home.” I found out from one of the other tenants that he used to work the day shift, but his wife had died a few years before and he’d switched to nights.

Once he’d found out I was a musician, he always asked me any clue in his ever-present puzzle that had to do with music, and somehow he never managed to make me feel stupid when I didn’t know the answers.

Caleb is a mess. He’s sober, but he’s terrified that doing anything that he once loved will pull him back into the addiction he’s worked so hard to overcome.

I just needed to make sure I was acting rather than reacting. That I was making a choice instead of allowing the tides of other people’s feelings to pull me under.

What this means for the two of them is that Caleb is terrified of anything that makes him feel happiness (and wanting), and terrified to start making music for real again.

Which makes Theo’s life (which he hates) very problematic.

What I really liked about the story was how real Caleb’s struggle was. He wanted sobriety, but was too terrified to trust himself.

“Some things you take medication for a week and they go away. Some conditions you take medication for your whole life because that’s how you manage it. Only you can say which you’ve got and which you need.”

There was also an amazing passage that was very much like a discussion I had with friends years ago, about eating disorders and weight maintenance in general.

“Okay, so Maxine. Coke and booze. Plus she had issues with food. She ditched the coke and the booze, right? Went to meetings, did the whole bit. Took her a while, but she did it. After she’d been clean for about five years, you know what she told me? She said that she didn’t talk about it much at meetings because people didn’t take it serious, but the hardest thing for her to get under control— harder than coke and booze? Her eating disorder.”

“What? Why?”

He nodded. “You can draw a clean line with coke and booze. Say never again, and stay away from them, period. Food? You gotta eat that shit three times a day every day for the rest of your life, and you gotta make choices about it every time.

The other thing about the story is that Caleb has a support network looking out for him. So although Theo is the one with the money and the fame, Caleb is in many ways far better off, since he has friends who love him and care about what happens to him.

I just stared at him, my mind a blank. Rhys face-palmed and glared at me. Then he grabbed back the bag of chips we’d been eating.

“You don’t even deserve these, I’m taking them with me.”

Even if they are a little snarky.

It’s a very sweet story, about being broken and fixing yourself, and about love and trust.

“If you’re looking for a prize, you ain’t lookin’ for love. Love isn’t a reward. It’s not something you deserve or don’t deserve.”

I can recommend this, and now that I see that none of the following books have anything to do with the band, I might think about reading them.

Publisher: Loveswept
Rating: 7.5/10


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