Thirteen-year-old Paul is a lovable but unloved boy on the vulnerable cusp of manhood. Paul lives in Paris, in a world of privilege where beauty dominates, adults are intent on their own satisfaction, and everything looks perfect. There’s nowhere to get dirty, or so it appears.
His mother is glamorous and powerful, distracted by a younger lover and her own fear of aging. His wealthy father is desperately seeking to assuage his endless discontent. Paul lives between the two apartments of his broken family, looked after by a Filipino babysitter who hasn’t seen her own children in years. When Paul meets Scarlett, a beguiling classmate, he uncovers the cruel gulf between the world as it is and how he imagined it to be. It’s only a matter of time before Paul witnesses a shocking event and inherits a burden he’s far too young to shoulder.
A dazzling coming-of-age story, I Love You Too Much is a devastating literary debut born from the saying, Je t’aime trop: a distinctly French expression of excessive love. In a world of abundance, a Paris where parents don’t always mean what they say, Paul must look beyond his glamorous home to find a love that’s real.
I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake
Publication Date: January 23, 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
I went into this book without any real expectations – I was unfamiliar with the author and had not previously heard of the book prior to Little Brown graciously offering to send me a free ARC. This was my first official read of 2018 and was an easy five star rating!
Paul is such a sweet, naive, lovable character and it was often painful and felt voyeuristic to witness many of the interactions he has with family members and classmates. While I didn’t find his parents likable, Paul’s point of view shows two adults that are just so unhappy with their own lives that they don’t have the time to even think about their son’s happiness. Paul is at the pre-adolescent age where he has yet to recognize his parents as individual’s with flaws and rather views much of their behavior as his own fault – something that makes his story so much sadder.
Drake’s writing is really what made me fall in love with this book – she paints a picture of a Paris I’ve only visited once and yet I felt like I was there with Paul throughout the book. While I loved the complicated characters and was most affected by Paul’s experiences, there is something about the setting that really adds to the overall atmosphere of the novel.
This is definitely a book I would recommend to someone who loves coming-of-age stories and is okay with books that don’t necessarily have happy or neatly resolved endings. I am forever grateful that Little Brown offered to send me my copy! Alicia Drake is definitely an author who will stay on my radar for future releases.