Set in the sixties and seventies, M.A. Quigley’s The Complexities of Love: Will Mark find the love he is seeking? follows Mark Cooney, a resilient boy who grapples with his sexuality.
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“Isn’t everyone entitled to love despite their colour, race, or religion?”
– M.A. Quigley
Of course, in an ideal world, everyone should have the freedom to love whomever they want and however they wish. However, we all know that the real world is not so simple. Even after the emergence of modernism and all the progressive views, we still have a set view about how love should be on the backs of our minds. Knowingly or unknowingly, we discriminate against those who do not hold true to the preconceived notions about love. Back in the sixties and seventies, the idea of any other kind of romantic relationship apart from the conventional heterosexual one was just emerging publicly. People from the LGBT community were considered abnormal and ascribed as queer in those days. They were even subjected to medical treatments as if that would change their sexuality. While many persevered, some succumbed to the pressures of society. Nevertheless, love in those days was not as free as it is today.
Set in the sixties and seventies, M.A. Quigley’s The Complexities of Love: Will Mark find the love he is seeking? revolves around Mark Cooney. Mark belongs to a stereotypical nuclear family living in Noble Park, Australia. For all intents and purposes, he is just a shy boy with dreams of becoming a chef. Little does anybody know that he has a secret. Mark is different. Ever since primary school, he had formed an irresistible attraction towards his mate, David Ogilvy. Though Dave distances himself from Mark in high school, he continues to pine for him. Even after Dave disappears in thin air, Mark dreams of an improbable future with him. When Mark is twenty-three, his life takes a drastic turn. David makes a sudden appearance in his life. On top of that, Sandra, Mark’s beloved mother, falls ill. His relationship with Dave and the changing dynamics in his family unravels Mark’s life.
Where will Mark’s relationships lead him? Will he get the love that he deserves? Will he be able to free himself from society’s cage of expectations and find himself? If so, will he accept his true self?
The Complexities of Love: Will Mark find the love he is seeking? by M.A. Quigley is a heartening coming-of-age tale that takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. M.A. Quigley is a brilliant author who teleports you to Mark’s world through her vivid words. The reader feels like they are in a small town in Australia just like Mark. Quigley masterfully portrays the racism, misogyny, narrow-mindedness, and complicated family dynamics of the retro era. I loved how she brought to life the underground world of the LGBTQ community of the time.
Mark is one heart-touching character. You can’t help but relate to his insecurities, vulnerabilities, and apprehensions. His paternal issues and his caring nature left him swathed by life. Mark’s conversation with Giuseppe is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking conversations I have ever read. Being gay in an era where homosexuality is not tolerated is a tough job. Mark has nobody to confide in. He is even not sure if the boy he adores likes him back. Dave is an enigma to both Mark and the readers. There is something intriguing about him that draws people in. Yet his shiny attractive veneer hides a complicated and vulnerable soul. At one moment, you cannot help but loathe him. Then there are times when his plight breaks your heart. I found his behavior toward Mark to be cruel. Yet, his background and the way he is treated by his parents make his attitude understandable. Laura was yet another character that I found relatable. I really liked her in the beginning. However, her sudden change left me as baffled as Mark. I have to say Laura was just like any other schoolgirl that you would find even today.
I really appreciate the nuanced manner in which M.A. Quigley paints the Cooney family. At first glance, they were just like any other suburban family of four. It was fascinating to unravel the layers of long-buried secrets. Sandra was a lovely mother. She was a mystery even to her children. Her past astonished me as much as it did Mark. I wholeheartedly believe that she deserved better in life. Nevertheless, life does not always give us what we deserve. I loved Sandra’s outings with Mark. They were perhaps the only times when she broke out of her dreary existence as a dutiful housewife. Nora, Mark’s older sister, was an outspoken woman who fought for her love. The way she defied her father’s racial intolerance toward her husband was admirable. Though, I have to mention that I found her selfish at times. I believe this trait made her all the more realistic. Russell was a character who baffled me. I am still confused about whether I like him or loathe him. He was strict and stringy. Also, he even went back on the most important declaration of love he made. Yet, it was evident that he was hungry for love. Though we are unsure whether he loved Sandra. It is clear that he cared for her. The way he was treated toward the end of the book unsettled me. I believe that was his comeuppance for his churlish behavior. Nevertheless, I still pity him for some inexplicable reason. This proves that M.A. Quigley is a master storyteller.
The Complexities of Love: Will Mark find the love he is seeking? by M.A. Quigley is a wonderful novel that keeps you engrossed to the end. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves coming-of-age novels and YA fiction. People who like reading novels about the LGBTQ community and homosexuality should definitely give this book a try.
- Title: The Complexities of Love: Will Mark find the love he is seeking?
- Author: M.A. Quigley
- Genre: YA Fiction
- Theme: Love, LGBTQ, Identity, Family
- Publication Date: August 24, 2021
- ISBN or ASIN: B093LVP5TN
- Number of Pages: 264
- Minimum Audience Age: 13
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 2
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 1
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 2
- Other adult themes: 1
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 3 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 4.6 out of 5
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