The story of boy meets girl has been told since time immemorial. In this one, a photographer (he) and a dancer (she) meet in a pub in South East London. Both black, and scholarship beneficiaries.
While in London they struggle to fit in, and in a fast-paced world, they automatically draw towards each other. The dancer is in a relationship with someone else but cannot seem to ignore the photographer and the photographer craves to make her his muse. They meet whenever they can, and he jumps through hoops to ensure each encounter is memorable.
The photographer tackles the challenges of being a black man, being vulnerable, and pursuing love. The words used are gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.
“The happy ending is never universal. Someone is always left behind. And in the London I get up in- as it is today- that someone is more often than not a young black man.”
“You don’t want to admit that he too knew he had been marked for destruction, that he had spent a life so close to death that it was less a life lived and more one survived.”
Still, he does not falter. Hope over anxiety, “When you sow a seed, it will grow. Somehow, someway, it will grow.”
The dancer has an active social life, always attending something, being part of something and feels out of reach to the photographer but somehow they collide and fall in love.
“I feel like a big part of our foundation is eating and drinking together.’ ‘I don’t think those are bad things to take pleasure in.’’
Cute, it’s the little moments that make up the big picture…right?
Open water reverberates the story of boy meets girl and the challenges of modern love. The pressure to live up to expectations while still holding on to individual truths. It covers depression, loneliness and trying to overcome them. The writer is crafty with his words and almost feels like nuggets of advice to anyone going through these traumas.
“You are more than the sum of your traumas.”
“You do not want to die before you can live.”
I particularly loved the tone of the book, it is an easy read and a compelling story that is relatable and touching. It may read as a cliché but aren’t all boy meets girl stories clichés? For as long as new ones get born each day, the boy meets girl story will forever live.
This 163-page book is a remarkable debut novel. And a book that recommends other books is always a plus! Reasons why the to-be-read list will never be zero!