cover image Love Sick

Love Sick

Autumn J. Bright. Light Bulb, $15.99 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-0-9861923-1-9

Early in Bright’s searing debut, set in Charleston, S.C., Toni Jones is stabbed by her spouse, Marvin, and taken to the hospital, where family members plead with her to leave him. Yet Toni slips back into familiar patterns, honoring her commitment to the man who was once a loving partner. As Toni’s career as a radio personality falters, Marvin begins victimizing a second woman. Flashbacks highlight the good times in Toni’s marriage as well as the early signs of Marvin’s abusive personality. Frequent movement between characters’ perspectives—including Marvin; Toni’s young daughter, Justine; and a well-conceived detective—detract somewhat from Toni’s personal development. Bright convincingly portrays the painful and conflicting emotions of a strong battered woman, but Marvin is reduced to a smarmy and predictable antagonist, and over-exposition drives home a message about escaping abuse with a force that flattens rather than lifts the narrative. [em](BookLife) [/em]