Review: Signs of Life by Melanie Hansen

A Resilient Love Story

Successful lawyer Jeremy Speer has it all—a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a cherished dream that’s about to become reality. He’s learned not to take happiness for granted, meeting the challenges of life and love head-on with unwavering commitment and fierce devotion. A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain. He’s able to piece his life back together, but instead of embracing it, he merely exists, using isolation and punishing physical exertion to keep the world at bay.

High school teacher Kai Daniels has a heart for at-risk kids—he was one himself, and a teenage brush with the law and some troubled years behind bars left him scarred inside and out. With courage, hard work, and the support of friends, he’s built a fulfilling life that leaves no time for a relationship.

An intense encounter with Kai at a gay club ignites a spark in Jeremy that he thought was extinguished forever, but he’s unwilling to destroy the fragile peace he’s managed to create, and he leaves Kai humiliated and disappointed. Things should have ended there, but a bizarre occurrence brings the two together in a way neither of them expected.

I seriously thought the first chapter of this book was going to kill me. It says in the blurb "A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain," and boy did it - but it also left me adrift on a sea of pain.
 Pain for Jeremy.

So much pain.

How I made it through the chapter in one piece I'm not entirely sure.We see Jeremy cut down to a mere existence from someone who has everything he wants. And it's hard to read, so hard. I grieved with him and felt the impossibility of moving on. Part of me wanted to crawl into his existence with him.

Except, if you are alive you owe it to yourself to live, not just exist.

Kai is perhaps the exact opposite of Jeremy. Where Jeremy has led a fairly privileged life, Kai is only where he is for virtue of having someone help him make the right decisions as a teen and to get him off the path he was travelling. He gives this back to the community in which he lives. He wants to help. Kai is so full of life. He gives and gives, without being a pushover. Where Jeremy felt closed in, shut up, curled around himself, Kai felt open and alive.

This book is so well written, every emotion is magnified a million times. I cried and I laughed and I loved with these characters. The characters were given time. They were given the right to make errors, to react to situations in a human way, and I really liked this. It is often the case in books that pain and angst and difficult times are dealt with easily - which is great for a bit of escapism. This book offered the escapism though, but with something else. It offered real emotions, not just  words on a page.

It offered a cast of characters rich in personality and character. Fully rounded.

It offered time.

It offered pain and happiness.

It offered hope - not just for the characters, but for the reader too.

Writing a review that doesn't come with a deck load of spoilers is hard for some books, and this is one of them. I would recommend it to everyone, just have tissues at hand!!

Find out more at Goodreads.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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