Erryn reviews ‘Love Me Whole’ by Nicky James. This book was released by the author on January 12, 2018, and is 378 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Adam Gold. It was released on February 15, 2019, and is 13 hrs and 27 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I am a huge Nicky James fan and I wanted to see how she tackled mental illness in a book while providing me a happy ending.
Twenty-eight-year-old Oryn Patterson isn’t like other people. Being an extremely shy social introvert is only part of the problem. Oryn has dissociative identity disorder. He may look like a normal man on the outside, but spend five minutes with him, and his daily struggles begin to show.
Oryn shares his life and headspace with five distinctively different alters. Reed, a protective, very straight jock. Cohen, a flamboyantly gay 19-year-old who is a social butterfly. Cove, a self-destructive terror, whose past haunts him. Theo, an asexual man of little emotion, whose focus is on maintaining order. And Rain, a five-year-old child whose only concern is Batman.
Vaughn Sinclair is stuck in a rut. When his job doesn’t offer the same thrill it once did, he decides it’s time to mix-up his stagnant, boring routine. Little does he know, the man he meets during an impromptu decision to return to college is anything but ordinary.
Vaughn’s heart defies logic, and he finds himself falling in love with this strange new man. But how can you love someone who isn’t always themself? It may not be easy, but Vaughn is determined to try.
***Check out the giveaway at the bottom of this review for a chance to win one of several prizes***
It took me three days to get through this book and despite the length, I would have binged and done it all in one day if I could have. I have listened and raved around Nicky James’ audiobooks before, and this one is one of my favourites. Possibly my new favourite.
As someone with a mental illness, I’ve struggled with loneliness and wondering if someone will ever want to be with me. When I met Oryn Patterson in this book, I ached for him. Twenty-eight years old and has never had a serious relationship – or any relationship – because of his illness. After all, who would want to take on one man with six distinct personalities – alters – and never know who is going to show up.
Vaughn Sinclair, thank God, is that man. He meets Oryn in a night class he’s taking. He’s thirty-five and restless, wanting to go back to school to liven up his life. He’s not expecting to meet a beguiling and hurting man, but he does. Over and over, Oryn warns Vaughn that a relationship won’t work yet over and over Vaughn finds more about Oryn to love. I’ll be honest, there were moments I though Vaughn was the one who needed to check himself. Loving someone with a mental illness is a challenge at the best of times, but when the person is in an active phase of their illness? Phew. My head spun as Oryn cycled through his alters.
I want to take a moment to congratulate Ms. James on such an accurate representation of mental illness. She took on the challenge of someone dying and dealing with the aftermath of that in No Regrets and Abel’s Journey, so I wasn’t surprised she’d take on another really tough subject. Accurate representations of mental illness are rare enough, but taking on an illness that is so misunderstood? Wow. Just…wow. I didn’t know better and recently went to see the movie Glass. The portrayal of the character with this illness was disturbing and horrifically inaccurate. Maybe it was good for storytelling, but it did nothing to increase awareness or understanding of the illness and its underlying causes. For the record, I did not enjoy the movie.
In this book, Oryn points out that most movies do not accurately represent dissociative identity disorder (D.I.D.). He’s right, of course. In daily discourse, multiple personality disorder is not portrayed accurately and those suffering from it are destined for horrific outcomes. Nicky’s book about death was tough, but it was a romance and I knew it was going to have a tragic ending – I was warned about that. I was also promised that the book was about hope and love. It was, so promise kept.
This book is also about hope and love. Once Vaughn decides he’s willing to risk himself and get involved with Oryn, he commits completely. I loved that. There were many very simple moments that were poignant for their normalcy. And then there were dramatic moments where things go sideways where I held my breath. Vaughn freely took on Oryn and his five alters, constantly educating himself. I thought Ms. James did a great job of developing each alter and engaging me as a reader. I always felt each portrayal was authentic and the characters were well-developed. I also felt Vaughn’s fatigue viscerally as he dealt with the changes Oryn underwent.
I got my romance and my happy ending, but wow, did these guys ever have to work for it. I liked that the ending was about living with mental illness and not trying to eradicate it. Many people who have mental illness face life-long struggles and if they are lucky enough to have a partner, that person has to be strong and supportive. That person needs to understand that someone with a mental illness doesn’t choose to be that way and that there are medical reasons for the illness. Vaughn’s open-mindedness and willingness to learn and adapt was commendable.
Finally, I want to give kudos to Adam Gold. Many books have multiple characters of various ages, but the challenge of this book is that six of those characters belong to one body. Mr. Gold’s portrayal of the complexity of Oryn’s character was amazing. I was able to move from each alter without losing the authenticity of the performance. He narrated Ms. James’ other books and they work really well together. I cannot say enough good things about this work and I highly recommend it.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
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I live in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada and I am a mother to a wonderful teenage boy (didn’t think those words could be typed together…surprise) and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband, who thankfully doesn’t think I’m crazy.
I have always had two profound dreams in life. To fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world, not bogged down by technology and to write novels. Since only one of these was a possibility I decided to make the other come alive on paper.
I write mm romance novels that take place in fantastical medieval-type settings and love to use the challenges of the times to give my stories and characters life.