Title: A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat
Author: Roe Horvat
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Release Date: December 15, 2017
Page Count: 230
Reviewed by: Renee
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Simon had always expected love to feel different than this. Whether it was his Catholic upbringing or the poetry he’d read – Simon had thought that true love would be uplifting, fulfilling, that it would give a meaning to his loitering, and add joy to his leisure. But not this kind of love. This love was a flesh-eating monster, sharp-clawed and evil-eyed, ravishing his mind with medieval cruelty.
Dr Simon Mráz is a respected specialist and lecturer at the Charles University in Prague. He is a serious man, responsible. His students call him The Cruel Doctor Frost not because he’s unkind, but because of his unwavering, ice-cold composure. As a psychiatrist, he values sanity. And sanity can be found in work, restraint, and self-control.
Not many know of that one time in the past when The Cruel Doctor Frost lost his cool. His ill-advised, secret affair with a student left Simon deeply wounded. Since that day, every minute of Simon’s life has been a struggle to remain sane, functioning. He’s managed so far – as long as he is needed, as long as his work makes a difference, Simon can scrape together enough strength to get up in the morning and run off the nightmares. But when his friends begin drifting away, his beloved protégé becomes independent, and the man who bereaved Simon of his precious sanity might return… Simon’s mind and body stop responding to his impressive willpower.
This book won’t be for everyone. It totally worked for me, though.
Horvat established their writing talent with The Layover and Dirty Mind. I’m a fan, and I was hooked from the first book.
This book, though, takes emotional pain to a new level.
Simon is a psychiatrist who also teaches medical students. Four years ago, he had a brief, heartfelt affair with a med student named Matej. Matej wasn’t ready for anything serious, so Simon had resolved to let him go. Before he could, a tragedy struck Matej’s family, and Matej hasn’t been heard from since.
When something hurt this much, there had to be some tangible consequence to it. Simon eyed his arms and legs half expecting blood to start seeping through the fabric.
Three quarters of this book is Simon’s heartbreak. Horvat made it tangible without being too much. I’m not big on the hurt/comfort theme, but I ate it up here. Simon’s heartbreak over never seeing Matej again, never hearing his voice, never feeling his light was a palpable presence while reading this.
This book nailed heartbreak better than I can remember reading. And that’s what will stick with me most.
“You’ve ruined me. You’ve ruined my life. And I thought there had to be a damned good reason for you to disappear on me.”
I wouldn’t rate it highly without a happy ending, of course.
Simon is not a likable MC. He is gruff and pessimistic. He can’t even be happy for his best friend when he announces that he’s engaged. And Matej isn’t immediately likable either. How can he be when we literally feel Simon’s pain over losing him with every word written?
This was a powerful story. But Horvat hasn’t written one yet, that I’ve read, that isn’t.
It will stay with me for a while.