In the dead cold of a northern Canadian winter, 30-year-old Marissa finds herself in a detox centre, every bone in her body yearning for a drink. The only thing worse than drinking would be to return to the lonely hell of alcoholism. Free Love takes us into the heart of the AA recovery community in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, as Marissa struggles to find hope in a town that loves to party where temptation, and the beauty and danger of the northern wilderness, are never far away.
This is a really hard book for me to review. I feel like there are a lot of things that didn’t impact me as much as they should have. Alcoholism is a topic that has never affected me or anyone I love, so there is a disconnect while I’m reading about it. The author of this novel, Annelies Pool, is Canadian, and the book takes place in Yellowknife. I have a soft spot for Canadian literature, so I figured I would give this book a chance anyway.
My biggest issue with this novel was the plot. I didn’t feel like anything really happened to Marissa. She was an alcoholic, she went to AA, she became sober. Everything else that happened in the book didn’t make much of a change in her life. Even when horrible things happened to her, they didn’t alter Marissa.
Since this book wasn’t plot-based, it needed to be character based, but I felt it fell short in Marissa’s character development as well. I wasn’t a fan of Marissa because I felt like things were too easy for her. Her journey to sobriety didn’t face any real challenges.
However, the one redeeming aspect of the novel is the incredible friendship between the women. I loved how the four women, Marissa, Dot, Eliza, and Pandi came together to support each other. They were all tough and honest with each other, and it was refreshing to see women of all different ages and backgrounds coming together to help each other.
The writing was also really poignant and beautiful at times. I liked the use of the dual timelines to show how Marissa became the person she was. Overall, the book is decent, but I wish it had left more of a mark on me. I wish it were slightly more memorable.
I received a copy of this book from the Goodreads FirstReads program. This has not affected my review in any way.