Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Writers are in the business of attempting to expose the human condition in such a way that our description [writers’ descriptions] resonates in the souls of other humans.” -Natalie Kusz, American Memorist
Many reviewers draw inspiration for their reviews from the book under review. This reviewer has done just that previously, and Tia Louise’s skill is such that there are hidden treasures written into her words and stories. She crafts wisdom as she shares a story that has a greater truth to it. In doing so, she connects the human condition to the lives of her readers. In her newest book, Here with Me, the biggest truth is the need to love yourself beyond your pain. Now, pain is defined in different ways to different people in the story. Some people’s pain and longing might seem lesser than another’s, but a condition of the human spirit is living life with both pain and joy and our responses to both.
Sawyer’s pain resides in his “battle scars.” Louise creates this hero who has survived the deaths of his parents and a trauma from his experience in the military. Sawyer’s story resonates with people who hide behind their pain, shorting themselves of the abundance of life. For much of the story, Louise draws on Sawyer’s pain to create a profound emotional connection to an unwillingness to drop one’s past pains. While many of her readers might not suffer from PTSD as Sawyer does, we do suffer from believing we can’t be more than our past troubles or sins. That we cannot share that pain with others because it is too much to bear. Instead, we own the heaviness onto our shoulders when we could share the experience and lighten our own load. Sawyer’s character represents this difficulty to accept the challenges towards recovery and healing. In doing so, Louise points to the sometimes stubborn spirit of the human heart.
Counter to Sawyer is Louise’s heroine, Mindy. Sawyer and Mindy have loved each other for most of their lives, but Sawyer’s pain prevents him from living an abundant life with Mindy. Like many of us, Mindy is waiting for Sawyer to accept her, and she measures her self-worth contingent on his love for her. Through Mindy’s characterization, Louise’s readers learn that self-worth must come from within. We cannot measure our ability to be loved from outside of ourselves. Instead, we must love ourselves first. Even though their circumstances are different, Mindy and Sawyer are Louise’s admonishments to accept ourselves, faults and all, and love ourselves just as we are. It’s a powerful lesson wrapped up in a story that tugs at your heartstrings.
Through her characterization and storytelling, Tia Louise draws us in deeply to Here with Me. I enjoyed Wait for Me, the previous story in this series, but Sawyer’s story grabbed a piece of my heart in ways that his sister’s story didn’t. Sawyer seems broken with the possibility of mending. However, he must value himself enough to do the work. I connected with this lesson because we all have cracks in our souls that could use some self-love to mend. And, like Sawyer, we oftentimes think we aren’t worthy of it. As Tia Louise unleashes this truth, she empowers her readers through Sawyer’s evolution to look inward at those cracks, seek out love, and allow ourselves to bask in it as it seals up our hurts and refreshes us. From its first page to its last, Here with Me grabbed little bits of me and made me believe in the power of love to bind my hurts.
In love and romance,