A brilliant dissection of the human condition.
This may be one of the toughest books you'll ever read. It's not an easy story and not for the fainthearted.
The story is an incredible one. Though, not so much from the aspect of the author having a terrible accident at the age of seventeen. It left him paralyzed from the neck down, but that is only the catalyst for this tale of, Don't do it, Luke, -to, No, what the hell did you do that for? But the tragedy of the story is the choices this man makes.
Above all else, I love this book because the author doesn't fall into the slippery, slimy well of writing a pity-me book. He writes with positivity and optimism, saving the reader from plummeting into suicidal thoughts. This is the polar opposite of that. I can't stand books overflowing with self-pity.
The book is unusual because a good part of it is told with startling honesty through a series of emails and chats (including graphic sex talk). It's an uneasy read, and your allegiance will fly from protagonist to victim and back again—but sometimes, the line between them is blurred. Who is the victim here? An alternate title for the book could be Who's Using Who?
Luke is a pragmatist, a narcissist, a thoroughly good bloke, and one that readers may even describe as a monster—at least one of his many girlfriends did. Essentially, he's looking for love and fulfilment—like the rest of us. For Luke, it doesn't come from walking down the street. He has to hone his brain to reach his goals.
Luke has degrees coming out of his ears. He's a teacher and a counsellor working with students and vulnerable adults—he has affairs with them all. Any hole's a goal. The honesty of writing in this book is startling.
Partway through, your loyalties will shift and turn and turn back again as woman after woman takes advantage of him—while he is taking advantage of them. You have to see this through to the end for the 'save a cat' redemption.
Parts of this book will break your heart. At one point early on, his first girlfriend completely and utterly emasculates him. It's the disabled equivalent of a Lorena Bobbitt. She does something so cruel that this poor man, who can only move his head, is left humiliated and at the mercy of others. It's an act that has probably left him scarred, but the writing is so succinct that at that moment, this reader thinks—good girl!
Are you peckish while reading this? Go and get yourself a snack—and then imagine not being able to do that. Sure, you can wheel yourself into the kitchen—but then what? Every single need of this man has to be provided by somebody else. Sure we've all played with squirty cream, but being fed by a lover (rather than a caregiver) is sensual and even sexual for Luke.
The book's premise is—I'm limited. How can I get what I want? And the reversal of that when the tables are turned.
Luke's wrongdoings catch up with him when a vindictive lover tells the college (where he teaches) about his affairs with his students. Before his hearing, he is forbidden from making contact with his aggressor—a thoroughly nasty piece of work. You scream at the screen, 'Don't do it, Luke.' The reader knows he's going to. And sure enough, he sends the email. The book is filled with Luke making one wrong decision after another.
This man wrote a novel using his mouth. To be fair, he can probably mouth-type as fast as we can finger-type. It's his life—but just let the enormity of that hit you.