We met Luke in ‘Maggie’s Five’. This is his story.
Lemons are a curious fruit. Add enough sugar and they’re sweet, but not enough…
When I was fifteen, my best friend introduced me to his brother’s girlfriend.
She stole my ability to see anyone other than her.
She stole my ability to want anyone other than her.
She stole me.
When I was eighteen, I finally got to kiss that girl.
Two days later my family and I left Australia to live in America.
When I was nineteen, I met Sophie, and everything changed.
My perfectly constructed life, the life I’ve worked hard to create and maintain, started to crack.
Then crumble… then collapse.
I don’t want to be attracted to her… I don’t.
She’s disorganised and impulsive and messy… Shit she’s messy.
God, she’s beautiful…
And mind-consuming and heart kicking and blood racing.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.
Reading a sequel that is kind of a prequel is a curious but rewarding experience. Luke is a character first introduced in Maggie’s Five and while we are given brief references to his past, these are explored in much more detail in this second book.
Fitzgerald brings you into the novel right from the start, not because it’s shocking or intense, but because from the first pages it’s fun. We are first introduced to Luke when he is in his final days of high school, filled with Muck Up days, mischievous teenage boys, attractive teenage girls, chaotic hormones, and looking forward to life after school.
The strong Australian teenage mateship is in full force as Luke interacts with his high school friends. This remains throughout, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, but the friendships are solid and include nicknames, insults, and all the things only a real friend can say to you. The relationships in Luke are some of the best parts. Seeing Luke with his new friends, old friends, family, and girlfriend are all so different, but it shows off the variety of relationships really well.
Fitzgerald mimics the voice of a teenage boy, and one in his early twenties in a way that feels realistic and honest. Luke’s thoughts and feelings about being young and away from friends, thoughts about girls, plus finding a place in a new country, are all explored honestly and believably. As a narrator Luke is honest but a bit blunt at times which takes some getting used to, especially about his wants and needs, but it doesn’t feel forced or unrealistic, nor over the top which makes it ring true. To generalise, he is a young Australian bloke and his language reflects that, but overall he is a sweetie and a nice guy with a cheeky side who you can’t help but find endearing.
Other characters are just as enjoyable. Sophie is funny and quirky and takes what she wants from life. She is passionate and bubbly, not perfect but does her best. Secondary characters like Marty and Jon balance the story from Sophie and Luke, and add dramas and stories of their own. The great thing is each character and life is intertwined, nothing really feels like a background story or a side plot. It’s messy and involved and Fitzgerald has packed so much history into these characters that little references can tell you so much about a person without having to explain it.
Being the “Second in a Love story”, there are the obvious connections to Maggie’s Five. There are scattered references to Maggie, both her teenage years and older self, this acts in a small way as Maggie’s history too, her own mini origin story seamlessly integrated without overshadowing Luke’s. More importantly, despite know where Luke ends up, it is wonderful to see where he has been and it adds extra dimensions to his character. Naturally with so much back story provided this novel makes the events in Maggie’s Five even more emotional and if you haven’t read it I insist you must. And if you have, after reading Luke I assure you a second read of Maggie’s Five makes the whole thing so much more beautiful because you know the history and relationships more deeply.
The best part about Luke is how real it feels. There are messy relationships, love at the wrong time and with the wrong people, and the best laid plans that just don’t work out. The writing is light but filled with importance and the love Luke has for Sophie is evident and the friendships he has are strong. Fitzgerald makes this love at first sight romance much more than that, there are problems and there are highlights, pushy friends and overbearing parents, everything real love and life can involve.
The second best part of this is Fitzgerald’s writing. She certainly knows how to end a story in style (!!), and she knows how to surprise you and keep you on your toes. When you think you know what will happen suddenly it doesn’t, and when you have suspicions she leaves you hanging until you become complacent then she pounces. Even for the littlest things you are never sure where the story will go, but the journey is an absolute delight to take, not to mention all the things you only realise once you have finished that make even more of an impact.
Luke is a fantastic story that is filled with romance and sex and falling in love, but there are also friendships and laughter, important self discoveries, and just the pure enjoyment of being young. Fitzgerald balances every element beautifully and seeing Luke’s timeline unfold over the years alongside friends and family can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
You can purchase Luke…the Second in a Love Story via the following