My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Emotions - they can be so very understood and misunderstood in the same go.
Imperfect Strangers - The title is apt. When does a person change from Stranger to somebody you know? How do you know that the person you think you know is the same all the time? Do you ever know a person completely? So many questions that David Staniforth made me ask myself while reading his debut novel.
The story of Keith is heartbreaking. What strikes you most in the book once you really get started is the bleakness of Keith's surroundings. Keith wants to be normal desperately, but does not know how. He tries hard, he really does, but years of being bullied has left him so socially awkward that he just does not know how to be in company of people.
Imperfect Strangers is the story of emotions. You can live through envy, greed, jealousy, anger, love, hatred with the characters in the book. There is literally a plethora of emotions running riot in the book. Staniforth does not talk or write about heros or do gooders, he writes about people, regular everyday people with their own hopes and aspirations about what their life should be. You can see the need in Keith, the hope for a good life and love in Sally.
It is an explosive debut from a great author. I know of David Staniforth from our common GoodReads group. Our interactions have always been funny, Imperfect Strangers came to me highly recommended from the other members of the group. Reading through the book has been a amazing experience, it takes you through a gamut of emotions. Once I finished the book, it was as if I had undergone a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was a emotional journey. Keith has some serious psychological problems, his childhood chaffing under a brutal parent has left some deep, very deep scars on him which he has been struggling to overcome all his life. Sally is a breath of fresh air in his life. He wants to give her a life she aspires to but him by her side.
Slowly she becomes his all consuming obsession, he wants to give her the perfect life. Even when his actions start becoming creepy you can feel his emotions, his almost desperate desire for Sally and his need to put his past to rest. Staniforth with his portrayal of Keith manages to keep you feeling sorry for him all through the book. Even when the book ends you feel sorry for Keith at the end.
Sally I have mixed thoughts about how I feel for her. While I liked her trying to bring Keith out of his shell and seeing him for more than the bumbling loser, I did not like the way she behaved with him around her peers or that she did it for him out of pity. She was always out there giving mixed signals about what she wanted from Keith.
I would recommend this book if you are looking for something very emotional and thrilling, it is a roller coaster experience of emotions and a must read in your library. My only peeve is there are some supporting characters whom I would have liked to see more of like Keith's elderly neighbor, Steve and Sally's niece who was the only person who could connect to Keith unconditionally.
A full 5 stars.
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