Title: After The End
Author: Alex Kidwell
Narrator: Gregory Salinas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 27th October 2014
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
After Quinn O'Malley loses his partner of ten years, Aaron, to cancer, he withdraws from everything. In a single tragic moment, he goes from an artist with a loving partner and a future to an uninspired comic book store owner who barely exists. He hides behind a shield of grief, refusing to let Aaron go. He feels guilty for even trying to imagine a life apart from what he'd had.
The charming party planner Quinn's best friend insists he meet on a blind date isn't someone he's ready for. Brady Banner walks into Quinn's small frozen world and turns everything upside down. For years, Quinn has focused on endings, but as Brady begins to thaw his existence, Quinn realizes that one moment can do more than stop a life - it can also start a new one.
This story was such a poignant look at what is a very difficult subject for many but my how my heart ached, a real Herzschmerz tour de force with an end that left me mulling things over in my mind for days. You only live once so make the most of it.
This book deals with bereavement. A subject that a lot of us will have or may have experienced but is still not one that is easy to talk or write about. This book was beautifully written, reflective, melancholic, bittersweet but also hopeful, triumphant and a lesson in the fact that life still and must go on.
Quinn has been living alone after losing his partner to cancer. He has become withdrawn, lives in the past, all his dreams and plans shattered. I could so relate to Quinn. When you have loved someone unconditionally then a piece of you dies along with that person. I definitely felt and saw this with my mum when my father passed away. This takes a long time to get over but you have to and the younger you are the more important it is to move on. Quinn’s friends, Tracy and Anna are worried about him with all good reason. Afraid he’ll become a complete recluse and be eaten by his cat. They set him up on a blind date with Brady, a mutual friend.
First of all I thought it was a little trite to begin the book with a blind date but it was handled very well and I just fell in love with Brady myself. He is compassionate, understanding, patient, sweet and totally adorable. Maybe a little too perfect in many respects but exactly the person that was needed to breathe life back into Quinn. Quinn falls for Brady’s charm immediately and after a number of dates realises that he is attracted and falling for Brady. I mean who couldn’t.
However, we no get to the part that really hurts and the conflict within Quinn. Quinn goes through the whole spectrum of feelings which I could so understand from guilt, to anger and eventually closure. First of all he feels he is betraying his deceased partner, Aaron. Especially after sleeping with Brady for the first time. In all intents and purposes cheating on him if you will. Yes, this really is a feeling that is all too real, the love of you have for someone never stops even when they are no longer with us. The feeling of being unfaithful to a memory is very real as the love never leaves. You could feel Quinn’s anger when people kept saying to him that Aaron would have wanted him to be happy, Aaron would have wanted him to move one, would not have wanted him to be alone. I know people mean well by these statements but as Quinn said how the hell do people really know that Aaron would have wanted. These expressions are meant to comfort but in reality are trite and can become very annoying.
Quinn has to learn that by being with Brady he is not cheating on Aaron and has to find the room in his heart for both of them. There was one scene that had me in tears where Quinn goes to Aaron’s grave and “talks to him” about Brady. My goodness the feelz, this was an extremely emotional scene. It is a process that takes a long time but eventually Quinn comes to realise that you never love the same way twice. Loving Brady doesn’t mean that he has to give up loving Aaron. He can keep a special place forever in his heart for Aaron but can also find the room for Brady too. After he finds his closure with Aaron and starts to open up to Brady it is like he is born again. Coming out from the shade and into the sun. So there is light and the end of Quinn’s long dark tunnel in the form of Brady which means Quinn gets his HEA as does Brady with him.
This a story with a lot of emotion and deals with a difficult subject with a lot of insight, sensitivity, empathy and affection. Although the subject matter may be considered as a little depressing and something that a lot of us may not want to be reminded about. It also shows that life goes on and After The End is only the chance for a new beginning.
So as this is an extremely sensitive subject it is all the more important to find the right narrator. YES!! The narrative voice of Gregory Salinas was just perfect for this book. Warm, soft and dulcet, a voice that wrapped me up in a comfort blanket from the word go. A voice that would make things better just by listening. Sounds like I had a little crush on Gregory, well maybe I did, his voice for sure. His voice characteristations for my ears at least were also perfect. Always consistent and even when personalising the female characters still managed to give them a natural femininity without losing the warmth in his voice or sounding fake. I could listen to this guy all day and will be hunting down more audio books that he has narrated and also interest me to just listen to him over and over again.