As I start this review, I feel compelled to note—and this is the entire reason I grabbed a copy today, read it, and am queue-jumping ahead of the other books awaiting reviews with it—is that author Louise Willingham has offered it exclusively on Payhip, raising money for Galop. For anyone unfamiliar with Galop (including myself, being in Australia and all), it is the UK’s LGBT+ domestic abuse hotline. So making a donation is money well-spent, especially when you get a book out of it. You can pay as much or as little as you want, from the low cost of £0.00, but if you can, I would implore you to donate something. You can purchase the book via this link. I will note that you will receive a PDF copy, rather than an EBUP or MOBI eBook, so if you plan to read it on your favourite eReading software, it would be beneficial to ensure that it can handle PDF files first.
Before moving on, I also need to make a confession: I have never read Willingham’s Not Quite Out. I bring this up, because right there on the title page is a note about the book: “An alternative perspective of the beginning of Not Quite Out by Louise Willingham.” Having just read this, though, I can confirm that Tenacity: The Determination to Continue (or simply Tenacity, as I will refer to it throughout the remainder of this review) doesn’t require you to read the original title. I was able to follow along perfectly well and didn’t feel the loss of having not read Not Quite Out, but it has served as a timely reminder that it is a book that I will need to purchase at some point.
In broad terms, Tenacity tells the story of Daniel, a student “living in a student room surrounded by students and working in a student café serving students.” I’ll get this out of the way: Daniel is gay, and is involved in a gay relationship. If you have any issues with that, don’t read Tenacity. Instead, consider the reasons why gay characters and relationships disturb you to the point that you’ll skip over an excellent read to avoid them. Daniel is in an abusive relationship with his boyfriend, and from here, we get to the crux of the story. If you have read Not Quite Out, you no doubt know what happens next, but I will keep this spoiler-free for those who haven’t.
Daniel, and the other characters in Tenacity, are well-written. Willingham could have relied on tropes for these characters, but has wisely opted not to, instead making them all feel unique, particularly the aforementioned Daniel, and William, the story’s major supporting character. Told in the first person, this book offers plenty of rumination from Daniel, as well as his insights into a life not going according to plan.
At just 90 pages, including the frontmatter, Tenacity is broken into 26 short chapters, broken into three parts. At under three and a half pages per chapter, these are very short, but the length works for this novella. The chapters are broken up logically, as are the parts.
As mentioned above, Tenacity is written in the first person, which works wonderfully for the story. The prose is fresh, and really helps the reader connect with and relate to Daniel and what he’s going through. He is a flawed character (as we all are), without being the least bit unlikable. William, who I assume is the protagonist of Not Quite Out, is a wonderful character. On first appearances, he doesn’t appear anywhere near as flawed as Daniel, however, given the first person narrative, we are seeing him through Daniel’s eyes.The novella is an excellent journey into Daniel’s mindset, and one that I encourage you to read. I will warn you that this does not tell a complete story, and to see how Daniel’s story plays out, you will likely need to read Not Quite Out. But the note Tenacity ends on works for the purpose of this novella, and while it does not provide a resolution for Daniel’s story, it remains a rewarding read.
I drift in and out of sleep for hours. Each time I wake, I squint at the light coming in through the window and I imagine a long-ago time where I had no problem sleeping for a solid seven hours. It feels like I see every O’clock.Tenacity: The Determination to Continue, Part Three: “Friendship”, Chapter 26
Tenacity: The Determination to Continue was purchased by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Tenacity is available in PDF exclusively from Payhip.
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Note: While I ordinarily link to Amazon and Goodreads reviews, Tenacity has no listing on either.