Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Only When It’s Us

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Only When It’s Us (2020) Chloe Liese (Bergman Brothers)

Only When It's UsTrigger Warnings: cancer, death, grief

I read Always Only You and liked it, but didn’t rush out to read other books in the series. Finally, I decided I might be in the mood to try another, and tore through the story, despite all the very hard things in it.

Then I read the author’s note and I liked it even more.

Growth also enabled me to pursue republishing this story when I learned the ways I could make this story so much stronger.

Since beginning my author journey, I have grown in my knowledge of how best to write authentic representation. Where I am as an author now is not where I began, and when I learned that aspects of the late-deafened representation in this book fell short of the standard for authenticity that I strive for, I wanted to correct that through critique and resolution of those inaccuracies.

All the kudos for that.

Ryder was ready to start his first year at UCLA when everything changed.

“Ry.” I hear it like I’m underwater, faint and warped. That’s what life sounds like with moderate and severe hearing loss, in the right and left ears, respectively. Bacterial meningitis came out of nowhere just a few cruel weeks before preseason at UCLA began.

Willa has goals, and she is not going to let anything stop her from achieving them–including her Business Mathematics professor who is seemingly trying to be a complete bastard to her–especially when he makes her partner with the lumberjack who has seemingly become the bane of her existence in that class.

Several things–I liked Ryder way more than I liked Willa. Eventually we discover why Willa tends to react rather than act, and why she doesn’t trust, but her reaction to discovering why Ryder was seemingly ignoring her felt really lacking in any empathy.

The two are seemingly the same age, but Ryder is far more mature, which made him seem significantly older than her.

I was frustrated by both characters refusing to open up and share with each other. Some of it is understandable.

I’m hiding it on purpose. Because if no one knows it’s there, there’s no pressure to talk, no expectation to hear perfectly. Maybe that seems to defeat the purpose of the hearing aid, but it doesn’t. The hearing aid is for me, not for others’ convenience.

Some of it far less so.

I didn’t lie to Ryder, but I didn’t exactly tell him the truth either. It’s just that talking about your sick-with-cancer mom is about as uncomfortable a conversation topic as I can think of, and as I’ve admitted, squidgy dialogues aren’t my speed.

One bit I especially liked was how the story dealt with grief.

“Let me start again. Willa, your grief is valid. Your pain is real.”

I stare at her. “But?”

“But nothing.” Rooney shifts in her chair, scooting closer. “And it’s threatening your well-being. I think it’s time to go talk to someone. Go to grief counseling. I don’t know if they’re suitable for this, but maybe also look into antidepressants. It’s been months, and you’re still struggling to function, Willa. There’s no shame in grief. You’ll grieve as long as you need to. There’s just room for caution when it’s compromising your well-being.”

That is a really fantastic summation of dealing with grief.

There were parts of the story I felt could have been tightened up a bit, places where things were a bit slow, but overall, I enjoyed it and I loved how important it is to the author to get the representation right.

Rating: 8/10


No comments

| TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

RSS feed Comments