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The IntimatesReview - The Intimates
A Novel
by Ralph Sassone
Picador, 2011
Review by Amy Ridley
Jan 31st 2012 (Volume 16, Issue 5)

Robbie and Maize first meet in high school and feel an instant connection. They lose touch with each other when Robbie goes away to school leaving Maize to navigate their dreadful high school alone. The only thing that keeps her going is her borderline stalker relationship with her guidance counselor. She finds any excuse to go to his office and he appears just as excited to see her. He's trying to prep her for her college interviews which Maize doesn't have much interest in. She is getting horrible advice from her mother and Mr. Jamesley is trying to save her from bombing the interviews. Her mother is a perfectionist who expects nothing but the best from her daughter. Maize father has died and her mother threw out the step-father that Maize actually liked leaving her with only her mother and her ridiculous expectations.

Robbie finds himself in Rome to visit his long absent father. He feels guilty going to see the man who left him and his mother for a younger woman. His mother was never a warm person but she is bitter and lonely now and it has taken its toll on Robbie and his personal relationships. He is surprised by what he finds in Rome as it is not what he was expecting. He still is unable to let in the father who abandoned his family. Robbie is unable to express his feelings in any of his relationships. He is unable to connect with his boyfriends, he cannot tell his father how his leaving affected him or that he's gay. His mother may have kept a roof over his head and made sure he wanted for nothing, but she was not able to provide him with any emotional support. She never dealt with the divorce and was unable to help Robbie.

It's easy to see why Maize and Robbie need each other the way they do with such dysfunctional families. All of their own personal relationships follow the same path of dysfunction. Maize rolls from one hook-up to the next. She compares each man to Mr. Jamesley which isn't fair to them or her. When she finally feels a little connection with a man she works with she is unable to act on her feelings. Robbie has finally found a boyfriend he wants to bring home to meet his mother. Once home it is obvious this is not going to turn out the way he hoped. He is not emotionally equipped to deal with a partner and what goes along with being in a relationship.

Sassone has written a fascinating story of two people unable to connect with any part of their lives emotionally due to the family dynamics they were raised with. Maize is in a toxic work environment and yet can't see it. She even starts to take on the mannerism of her tyrant boss. Robbie is unable to commit fully to a real job or even ask if one is available for him. The only people they connect to are each other and it is not fully clear why but without each other they could not survive. This is a powerful book about that one friend who is more family to you than anyone who is a blood relative.

 

© 2012 Amy Ridley

 

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University


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