My friend Amy Matayo has a new book coming out June 20th. It’s titled The Whys Have It. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy in return for a review. Friday night, I was up until 2am finishing it. I like to post my thoughts as soon as I read it or I will forget to do so because you know, life is so chaotic and my brain usually stays on data dump mode. But upon finishing, words refused to come to mind. I’ve spent all day trying to come up with words and sort my thoughts and just determine how I truly feel about the book.
Before I proceed with my thoughts, I want to point out that this is Amy’s BEST WORK YET! She always finds a way for her readers to love her more (or hate her because she’s just so darn amazing- it’s disgusting). I admire her writing in countless ways. She doesn’t shy away from edgy topics or deep character flaws or romance. She pushes the boundaries, but always in a tasteful manner. Anyway, enough of my babble about Amy because it could go on and on and on and on and then you would likely stop reading this post. Ha!
Amy has a way of making her readers feel things; not just feel, but feel deeply. In The End of the World, I ugly cried as I journeyed through Shaye and Cameron’s dark and abusive life. With The Thirteenth Chance, I swooned and drooled and hated (from a past experience) Will and Olivia’s relationship. That one will forever stand as one of my favorite books. Besides the ugly cries, the drooling, and the swooning, Amy has a mad skill for making the reader laugh. The sarcasm and borderline crude humor always have me snorting or laughing out loud (no joke). I can always count on a good laugh with her stories. Those are qualities of hers that I strive to become better at in my own writing.
But with The Whys Have It, I didn’t experience any of that. No drooling. No swooning. No laughing. I assume this is why the words refused to come to me last night when I wanted to write about it. I was stunned that for once in her writing, she made me feel something totally unexpected: grief, anger, and resentment. Not at her, but towards different characters throughout the story. I frowned a lot while reading. I forced tears from spilling out of my eyes. I choked back emotions that crept up my throat. It was a completely different experience. And that is NOT a bad thing. That is NOT to be taken in the sense that I didn’t like the book because I did. I just wasn’t ready for the whirlwind of emotions that came with it.
When I closed the book last night, I sat in a brightly lit room, hugging my knees to my chest and staring off into the distance. I was mad at Amy for making me feel anything other than pain in my stomach because I laughed so hard or that sappy romantic happiness we all crave. And don’t act like ya’ll have never been mad at a writer before because ya have! LOL! I was also so proud of her (and slightly envious of her creativity). Only a great writer can somehow manage to pull and tug at every heart string, stab you with a dagger while slowly twisting it, and yanking out your heart to stomp on it a thousands times causing you to feel a broad range of emotions before finally providing the happy ending you set out to find in the first place. Amy is that great writer and I applaud and look up to her.
With that said, The Whys Have It was a dissimilar and unexpected experience for me. The story crept off the pages and played out right in front of me in three dimensional form. That’s how vivid the story was. That’s how raw my emotions were. It’s also a story that plays out every day in someone’s life. Maybe in the life of the person reading this post right now or the person that will sit down in two weeks and open the first page of this book. Amy doesn’t shy away from showing how deep we are capable of grieving or how low we can emotionally sink in life while realistically living on top of the world or how we pretend to remain strong as our world crumbles around us when we simply just need that hand to hold or that embrace of a tight hug to let us know that it’s going to be okay.
So, Amy, kudos on another phenomenal book. Thank you for being an example to other writers (authors, bloggers, and those not yet brave enough to share their work with the world) and raising the bar of creativity and embracing the stories that we can walk away from having learned a valuable life lesson. As a reader and friend, I am so proud of you. The Whys Have It is your BEST WORK YET!
Available on Amazon June 20, 2017