Ruthie Knox? I jumped all over it when I was contacted about a new anthology revolving around strangers on a train. Big Boy was the first one I picked up in the series and the last one I finished.
When I picked up Big Boy, I was expecting to be wowed right away. Well I was but not the way you expect. It was written in first person point of view. The first few pages felt so stilted for me I put it down and moved on to the other books. Not one to give up and went back to give it another try and I ended up loving it more than I expected. The first POV did get me though.
Mandy joins an online dating site mostly to shake up the drudgery or her own life. Monthly she meets a man and they role play different time periods of US history in a train museum. Neither know who each other really is except who they are playing for the evening. With each date, the sensuality grows until a sexual relationship starts. A connection is made that she needs desperately to stay sane. But then she begins to want more.
In between monthly visits, Mandy wonders what he is doing, driving, working. Her sister and husband were killed in a car accident and now she is the mother of their infant son. He is her son now. Her job isn’t exciting as a college professor. When she is introduced to him at a party, she wants to know more and learns where he works.
But he rebuffs her, without taking away their monthly meetings. We don’t know his story until the end and why he plays these games on a dating site. And I think this is why the first person POV worked. We are left to wonder why he won’t go out with her without the trappings of the make believe world.
What I felt from this books was a deep sense of companionship. Mandy works hard to raise a child on her own. While not hers, he is hers. The piles of laundry, the dried stains on her shirt, working a job just to make ends meet. It is a thankless job, with tons of love. Being a mother of three kids and a husband who is traveling a ton, this just hit home in so many ways. I look around a the piles of laundry all around here. The dishes I have to wash. The carpet to vacuum. But yet I love my love even though I feel no control over it lately.
Mandy doesn’t want a man to come in and sweep her off her feet and make things better. She just wants a connection to someone. The monthly meet ups were her escape from a life she loved, but also a hard life. I just felt a connection to Mandy. A connection that has me wanting to grab my husband’s hand and run out to create a made up world to just escape for a few hours.
So while it isn’t the most sunny of stories, it is a connection between two people who’s lives just aren’t all the ads make it cracked up to be. A meeting of kindred souls just looking for a heart to find them and give them peace. I highly recommend this story.