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Love Maps, Eliza Factor.

May 15, 2015

Love Maps, by Eliza Factor. Akashic Books, 2015.

4 stars

A wonderful novel about a woman caught between her dynamic sister and her husband; an exciting book about love, pain, and the possibility of forgiveness.

In 1997, Sarah is an art teacher, raising her seven-year-old son, Max. Her story moves back and forth between her present situation and eight years earlier when she met Phillip, Max’s father. Then she had been a rising star on the New York art scene. Her paintings include her unique “love maps” of her subjects important encounters. Her sister, Maya, who had always overshadowed her as a performer and a life force, was very much a part of her life. When Sarah met and fell in love with Phillip, she didn’t know how to handle both of them at once. “She feels like such a different person with both of them. What will she do when they are in the same room? She feels like she might split right down the middle.” Tragedy ensued, and Sarah is still dealing with her choices when Phillip reappears in her life and that of her son.

Eliza Factor is a fine writer capable of developing an original plot filled with unexpected twists and turns. She captures deep and complicated emotions in a few sharp phrases and is a delight. Love Maps is her second novel, loosely linked to The Mercury Fountain, an historical novel set in the mercury mines of far west Texas. Factor lives with her family in Brooklyn. One of her three children is disabled in multiple ways, and in response, she has created Extreme Kids and Crew in order to bring together other families with similar challenges.

While most of Love Maps takes place in New York City and its suburbs, one section is about the land and people of the desert region of West Texas along the Rio Grande, a place where I live and that I love. Factor not only does well describing what the landscape looks like, she also captures something of its essence and its impact on those who come there. From her godmother’s ranch, Sarah talks to her agent back in New York and imagines him in the cliffs and open deserts she sees around her.

She thinks the sky out here would crush him. It’s so vast. It would crush the entire scene—the art and the artists and the critics and the collectors, they’re all dependent on the smaller scale of Manhattan. There you compare yourself to a building; here you are up against the earth, the mountains, the fucking galaxy.

I have to appreciate any author who understands that.

This is a masterful and delightful book that I strongly recommend to other readers.

Thanks to Akashic Books for sending me a copy of this book to review and for publishing such exciting authors.

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