Thursday, May 24, 2018

Kat's Review: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater

A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra
Publisher: Interlude Press (May 17, 2018)
Genre: Contemporary Romance -- M/M




Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.






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Content Warnings: Contains discussion of mental illness, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.






Kat's Review:



I wouldn’t call Jude Sierra’s A Tiny Piece of Something Greater a romance. Yes, it’s about the development of a romantic relationship between the two MCs, and it has a HFN ending, but it’s a lot deeper than romance usually goes, and it’s a lot darker. Reid is in Florida trying to escape the habits and memories of his past. He’s coping with cyclothymia, a mood disorder that features rapid mood swings, similar to bipolar disorder, but a lot less understood. Sierra is writing #OwnVoices, which she discloses in her Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, and it is really authentic. This book was a struggle for me because of my own history of emotional disorders, and I would suggest extreme caution if emotionally disordered thinking, cutting, and suicidal ideations (described in the past) is triggering for you.



While in Florida, Reid meets Joaquim, who has no experience with mental disorders, and is the reader’s proxy. Through Joaquim we experience Reid’s mood swings and the uncertainty of their causes and effects. Joaquim’s life has been relatively uncomplicated, though he misses his family back in Brazil. It’s not instalove, but it is instalust, and their burgeoning relationship moves at a quick pace. They have to deal with usual early relationship issues: nervousness and embarrassment, meeting friends, navigating busy schedules, and awkward text conversations.



There isn’t a sweeping dramatic story arc here. Sierra writes in present tense, and the level of detail she describes focuses on the mundane aspects of life. It reminds me a little of After Hours, which I recently read, and was similarly difficult to get into. But once I got into the rhythm of Sierra’s prose, it was easier to process. So even though there’s no murder mystery or anything, observing Reid and Joaquim’s relationship is compelling.



**Mild spoilers**



As I mentioned above, this is a very authentic story. The cognitive distortions that Reid experiences, his medication management, his therapy group, and his reluctance to reveal his cutting scars all feels genuine. Joaquim is very understanding about Reid’s hesitations, and that is maybe the least authentic-feeling aspect. We can hope that we’ll have partners who are so understanding and caring, but not all of us will.



**End of spoilers**



There is still romance in the story, and a few sex scenes. There isn’t a lot of graphic content, though; a lot happens off the page. While I’m usually a fan of more explicit descriptions, the level Sierra settles on is fine with me here, because that isn’t the focus of the story. There is a lot of sweetness, though. This is where the age of the MCs is really evident. They’re young (early 20s; for some reason, I had thought they would be older, like mid-30s), and the horizon is full of optimism and understanding and thoughtfulness.



Sierra’s epilogue isn’t too far away from the story, temporally-speaking. I think that’s for the best.  Undoubtedly, Reid and Joaquim will experience lots of rough patches. Reid doesn’t want to feel like a burden, or An Issue, and Joaquim does a wonderful job of trying to show that he doesn’t see Reid that way. But the reality is that it’s a struggle they’ll have to deal with. Leaving us with hope for the future is the best way to send off Reid and Joaquim.



3 STARS! 


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Source: eARC from blog tour host

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Thanks for the review, Kat! 



Enjoy!



Until Next Time,










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