Title: An Exaltation of Larks
Author: Suanne Laqueur
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Fiction
POV: Third Person
Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Alejandro Penda was thrust into the instability and violence of a military coup in his native country of Chile when he was only 11 years old. After being separated from his family, Alejandro arrived in New York to live with his uncle until he was accepted into the Lark family. Growing up as a Lark, Alejandro, now called Alex, formed friendships with his foster siblings and experienced all the firsts a teen male should. Growing the closest to Valerie Lark, she became Alex’s rock but as they went their separate ways during college, they remained emotionally connected. Even with the Larks as his anchor, Alex still felt lonely and incomplete until he met a person that was the final piece of his puzzle.
“We’re so alike. It’s no wonder.”
“No wonder what?”
“That we kept finding each other. I’m having a hard time thinking it was coincidence. Cachai?”
Valerie Lark has always been free spirited and when Alex entered her life, she knew a dynamic had shifted in her life. A costume designer by career, Val isn’t afraid to take risks and experience all that she can. But in all her dreams, she never imagined how paths could intersect in such unexpected ways.
“Am I yours? He whispered. Mine. Mine and only mine. Only you for me, Alejandro.”
As a teen, Javier Di Soto was aware of the financial struggles his Dominican family endured but love seemed to dominate until all that was left was contempt and hatred. At 17, Javi was on his own and survived the best he could until one night he meets a woman that alters his course. Always having the passion and creativity to write stories, Javi’s life began to offer more experiences and fuel for his own voice. Even though writing was an outlet for his feelings of abandonment, Javi rejected love as a way to protect himself but he still craved companionship, especially after observing an unknown man who seemed to simultaneously calm and ignite him.
“From day one, before even knowing the guy’s name, the smile nudged Jav in the ribs. Hey, it said, I got a story for you.”
The lives of Alex and Javier share commonalities and it’s those elements that percolate under the surface as they are reunited many years later in the hometown of the Larks. With Alex and Valerie each having a separate past friendship with Javi, they quickly fall into a safe friendship that feels natural to all. As time passes, life events continue to occur, but as they do Alex and Javi’s friendship grows into a more complicated dynamic due to Alex being happily married and Jav not having acknowledged his most buried desire. With the sexual tension off the scales, there is also a loving side of fraternalism that deepens and keeps these two characters as close as possible.
“Aware of how tenuous life can be. How too many things go unsaid or undone. How we wait too long and miss the chance.”
What transpires in this book is a story that spans over thirty years and how these characters’ paths intersect bringing love, passion, friendship, duty but also secrets, loss and emotional turmoil. The coincidences that occur feel weighty and not contrived. Additionally, the theme of moving forward and not wasting a second chance despite holding the emotional baggage is prevalent. Reading how Alex and Javier come full circle with acknowledging their vulnerabilities was a strong point.
While this story is rich in secondary characters that certainly enhance the plot development and main character dimension, Javier was simply a standout for me. Of course, I sympathized with Alex’s plight, but with Jav, his isolation – by fate and then choice caged his weakness that was just begging to be released. And when he broke free, it was magical.
This is the first book I’ve read by Suanne Laqueur and I enjoyed her realistic narrative and skillful style along with the ability to focus on emotional impact without the inserting unnecessary drama. Told in third person, the dialogue flows and getting into the minds of these characters is easy to do. For me, the first and fourth parts were the strongest and most intense. Ultimately, the theme is thought provoking and offers a beautifully and respectfully written story.
I recommend this book to those who wish to delve into the intricacies of real life and understand how we can rise above tragedies.