[OKAY, EVERYONE, WE'RE GOING TO PRETEND LIKE I REALLY POSTED THIS ON MONDAY MORNING, AUGUST 4, LIKE I WAS SCHEDULED TO, OKAY?]
Review of Room for Two, by Abel Keogh:
From the back cover blurb:
"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away. Silence. "Sweetheart?" A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall. Everything slowed down.
When a life is destroyed, when guilt says you played a role in its destruction, how do you face the days ahead? Twenty-six-year-old Abel Keogh chooses to ignore the promptings he receives concerning his wife's mental illness, and now he feels he is to blame for her choices. If only he had listened . . .
At some point in our lives, each of us face devastating afflictions and must eventually cope with loss. Regardless of how it happens, the outcome is still the same - we are left isolated, alone, wondering what we could have done differently, and where we can turn for peace. This is Abel's story in his own words. His search for peace and the miracle that follows is proof that love and hope can endure, despite the struggles and tragedies that shape each of our lives.
Please take this, not as a criticism, but as a mere comment about this book: If you are a “sensitive” reader, you might find the first three chapters of Room for Two a bit disturbing. Admittedly, I did myself (because I’m a “sensitive reader”).
That is by no means to say that there is not much of great value in Abel Keogh’s retelling of his journey to understand the reasons for his wife’s suicide, his struggles to forgive both her and himself for opportunities missed, and his difficult journey to find healing, peace and eventually, new love.
Because Keogh chooses to tell his story almost in novel fashion, rather than narrative, it is sometimes easy to forget that one is reading a “true story” and not a work of fiction. Swept along by the story, I frequently had to pause and remind myself that the experiences “Abel” was going through had happened to an actual, living, breathing person, and not to a character of fiction. The reminder is important, because that realization gives the book a whole different impact. In fact, the very incidents that disturbed me in the first three chapters, disturbed me because I knew they were “real” as opposed to “fictional”. A certain level of detachment usually comes with reading fiction. With that detachment stripped away, much of the opening became much more difficult for me, personally, to read.
Another difference: novels often tend to try to tie up difficult questions with easy answers. “Real life” is much more messy, and sometimes, there are questions that, quite simply, can never be answered. Keogh ultimately faces the “unanswerable” with honesty and faith.
This book should give readers new insights into an often overlooked segment of society. Divorces are so common, we are often quick to empathize with one side or the other. But a young widower of twenty-six? Keogh addresses the subject of awkward, well-meaning friends and family members seeking to help him “move on”, or, perhaps worse in all too many cases, to “hold back”. He also faces the challenge of a potential new love who finds herself struggling to overcome the “ghost” of the woman he lost, not by choice (as too often happens in a divorce), but by an unexpected death. A woman he was still deeply in love with when the tragedy happened.
Eventually, Keogh learns how to make “room for two” in his heart, and puts at rest his new love’s fears.
The struggles he goes through should open all our eyes to anyone working their way through a similar experience, and make us more compassionate, less judgmental, and more understanding of how we can be supportive (rather than awkward) towards someone facing this kind of suffering.
In the end, however, Room for Two is not about suffering, but about hope. I recommend this book for the new insights you will gain while reading it. But if you’re a “sensitive reader”, you might want to gloss through the first three chapters, and dive in around Chapter 4.
About the Author:
Abel Keogh is a columnist and editor of FreeCapitalist.com and host of the radio talk show The Abel Hour. He has been a website programmer and technical writer. Aside from writing, Abel enjoys running and lifting weights. He has a bachelor's degree from Weber State University. He and his wife, Julianna, are the parents of two boys and a girl.
Room for Two can be purchased on Amazon.
You can read more about Abel Keogh on his website, or visit his blog.
Abel Keogh can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Room for Two (sorry, not autographed), leave a comment on this post with your name, email address, and the words: "Me me me! I want a copy of Room for Two!" (If you'd rather not post your email address here, you can send it to me at email@example.com.) I'll hold a blind drawing on August 11th. So don't delay!