“Out of Love” by Hazel Hayes

I am a sucker for stories told out of chronological order, so Out of Love caught my eye a while ago.

I don’t know why the concept appeals to me so much. I think it’s something about examining cause and affect, playing around with what the reader knows and when, that somehow suits my sensibilities.

A hardback copy of “Out of Love” by Hazel Hayes sits on a table. There is a mug of hot coffee to one side. On the other, in a small decorative bowl rest two wedding rings.

Out of Love is a great example of this. The story itself is about a breakup, and on its own it would be just another doomed love story. But by playing it backwards Hayes manages to show a side of this tale we might not have seen otherwise.

Instead of a doomed romance, instead we see each part of the relationship in context to what would come next. We see the fallout from the breakup, then the breakup, then the signs of the breakup, back and back until we get to two people meeting for the first time.

Yes, this story probably resonated with me as I’ve recently gone through a big breakup myself. What this story was about, essentially, is how complicated relationships are, and how even the ones that end bring so much to us. We start at the end, seeing how broken and miserable Hayes’ protagonist is. But as we go back we slowly see how much good the relationship did her. How no matter how bad things seem at that point, the growth and the support she gained have left her in a much better place than when it began.

Essentially, it’s a story about how a relationship ending doesn’t mean you’re not better off for having been through it. Growing as a person isn’t necessarily easy or fun.

But this still had the potential to have been a rather dull book. A failed love story isn’t the most original tale, despite the reversed order. What made it grab me was Haye’s writing. There’s a sweep of Irish poetry in her style, lyrical and philosophical. While the story may be universal and well told, the way she tells it touched something deeper.

What made me love this book was that it helped me break through my own issues. I’ve found it so hard to read and write recently, but having made my way through Out of Love suddenly I found myself wanting to throw myself back into those pleasures. Somehow, her character being someone who wrote inspired me to pick up a pen and start working again. Once I finished this book I was able to pick up another without a struggle to make myself do it.

Reading Out of Love was a catharsis for me. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected me as much if I hadn’t been in this particular point in my life. But then maybe it would have.

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