What happens when that one true love, the dream relationship that the finest authors will be inspired to write about for decades to come, turns out to be more of a nightmare? Marc Ganancias, proving to be a fine author himself, explores this question in his self-published novel, One More Time.
An unnamed narrator, a musician living and playing in and around Washington DC, crosses paths with an unnamed Mediterranean beauty — a scientist with an alluring accent, a zest for life and a constant need: for assurance and for a plan of action. For him, it's love at first sight. For her, it's not as easy, with past relationships and past abuses coloring her every interaction. We follow the pair intimately through nearly a year of ups and downs, great food, sex, house parties and punk shows, text messages and emails. He pulls in close, she follows, then lashes out and pulls apart, a pattern that inevitably ends the relationship. The musician leaves the scientist at her apartment weeks prior to his planned move-in and never sees her again, despite his strong desire to help her and heal her.
At first it may sound like a simple premise — boy meets girl; boy falls in love; girl is too damaged to reciprocate; boy, heartbroken, leaves girl. But this is the strength of One More Time. By putting the reader deep into the relationship — we're reading their texts messages; we're there in the bedroom the first time they get each other off — we cannot help but empathize. He's charmed by her quirky turns of phrase, her often-up-for-anything attitude, and so are we. She's wooed by his patience, his desire to give arm-tickles and foot massages and grill up some good eats at any moment, and so are we. We're able to see ourselves in the musician's 8-eye Doc Martens, asking ourselves what we would do if the scientist flipped her switch from doting to distant again, and conceding that we, too, would forgive her — one more time. We want them to make it, because we want to make it. We want them to have hope, because we want to be afforded it ourselves.
But we're also offered something that the characters aren't: the distance that enables us to see that while the musician's and the scientist's lives feel all-encompassing, and their heartbreak insurmountable from the inside, things aren't so bad from the outside. We want to drag the musician to some dingy Irish pub and buy him a round or three of his favorite craft beer and tell him to get it all out, and then snap out of it. This wasn't his first love, nor will it be his last. It's a good reminder to ourselves. Everyone needs that shoulder to lean on, that little voice of reason offering a shot of tough love with a sympathy chaser. Hopefully One More Time grants us the self-awareness to be that for our friends, but more importantly, for ourselves.
One More Time is Marc Ganancias's first novel and is available for purchase in paperback or Kindle format through Amazon.