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Daily Helping for October 17th, 2020 – Alicia Drake – I Love You Too Much

A photo of the cover of I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake.

I absolutely loved this book. Truly. It was an emotional rollercoaster, and it certainly wasn’t a happy story, but it was real. The protagonist was a 13-year-old boy, and I felt so keenly for what he was going through, I wanted to reach through the pages and give him a hug. To be fair, I’ve felt that about a lot of characters over the years, but there was something about I Love You Too Much that just resonated with me at a fundamental level. I’m pretty sure a lot of that had to do with the fact that this book is set in Paris. I also live in Paris, and since moving to this city, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with stories that are set here.

This is because I’ve come to realize that there are two types of writers who write about Paris. The first is the writer who loves Paris, but who has never actually lived here. The Paris of these stories is always a romanticized and overly idealistic version of the city, and therefore so unrealistic, I can’t enjoy what I’m reading. And then there are the writers who have actually lived in Paris. Who know that the city is both beautiful and flawed. Who understand how Paris truly operates. Alicia Drake is clearly the later, because reading this book felt like stepping into the city itself. In a way, I felt like I was home.

Which was quite the feat considering the characters in this book occupy a part of Paris that is far removed from my own lived experience. Paul, the 13-year-old protagonist, lives in the affluent 6th district, whereas I most certainly do not. Nevertheless, the struggles he faces felt so real, I can’t remember the last time I related so hard to a 13-year-old boy. As I said above, this is not a particularly happy story, and there was one scene near the end that brought tears to my eyes. But it also made my heart soar, because it rendered so beautifully how a simple act of love, even from the most unexpected of places, can make all the difference in the world.

I Love You Too Much is one of those books that makes me love reading. It sweeps you up into its world and doesn’t let you go until the last page has been turned. My only complaint would be that it was too short, as I wanted to spend more time with these characters. But it was the perfect length for the story it was telling, and I’ll just have to be content with that. But I know I’ll be thinking about this story for some time to come.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!