cover image So Much for Love: How I Survived a Toxic Relationship

So Much for Love: How I Survived a Toxic Relationship

Sophie Lambda, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. First Second, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-78599-2

Lambda’s winning debut is an achingly direct, darkly funny memoir about surviving a nightmare relationship and an accessible guide to recognizing and dealing with predators. On the outside, Lambda’s whirlwind relationship with Marcus, a charming actor, is picture-perfect: the two meet in Paris, instantly click, and spin a cocoon of affection that leaves Lambda feeling that “the world was superfluous.” Privately, though, the red flags abound. Marcus undermines Lambda’s confidence and flies into jealous snits, then escalates to drunken rages, lies, cheating, and threats of self-harm whenever she stands up to his abuse. “I can’t tell if I’m crazy or not,” she worries. Moving to be near her increasingly erratic boyfriend only leaves her more isolated. Lambda relates traumatic experiences with insight and a sardonic sense of humor; she depicts her manipulated feelings with a fluctuating “Ego-Meter” and gets hard truths from her inner voice, represented here as a chain-smoking teddy bear, who points out all the cracks in her desperate fantasy that everything is fine. In the last section, she shares practical information on abusive behavior, showing readers how to recognize tactics like love-bombing and gaslighting. Lambda’s cute, expressive characters, bounding through elegantly drawn European city streets, provide a coating of sweetness to bitter lessons. Readers recovering from a toxic relationship will find this invaluable, but the frank, personal story is enough to win over anyone. (Apr.)