Reflections of Love and Loathing

M. R. Gutierrez, M.D

Publisher: AuthorHouse Pages: 299 Price: (paperback) $19.95 ISBN: 9781491853429 Reviewed: September, 2014 Author Website: Visit »

Fiction is perhaps strongest when storytelling and truth-telling mix seamlessly to both entertain and enlighten. With her debut novel, Reflections of Love and Loathing, M.R. Gutierrez reaches for these literary heights, and while the journey is sometimes slower than we might like, she hits several peaks along the way.

Gutierrez, a childhood sexual abuse survivor and victims’ advocate herself, tells the story of Liliana, a young Native American woman fighting to extricate herself from the complicated bonds of her violent, alcoholic, and profoundly dysfunctional family in a small New Mexico town. A deep understanding of the complex entanglements that abuse can spawn infuses every conversation and description in the book. Readers will find themselves mentally yelling at Liliana to get out of town and away from her alcoholic grandmother and pedophilic great-grandfather, but Gutierrez doesn’t take the easy way out. Instead, she shows just how powerful attachment and denial can be.

There’s another story here, too, a mystery. Deaths, murder accusations, and a budding romance with Terry, a near stranger, form the bones of the story. The tension, however, builds unevenly, as much time is spent exploring extensive family trees and small-town politics. When we get back to the key questions—Is Liliana rightfully accused of murder? Will she let Terry help her?—we regroup and want to know what happens next, but it’s easy to get lost in the details between plot points.

An insightful debut, Reflections of Love and Loathing embodies some hard truths in a sympathetic character. Although Gutierrez would do well to pick up the pace a bit in the middle, in the end she tells an honest, important and relatable story of one woman’s struggle to break free.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Denver, Colorado
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