Thank you to author Daniel Maunz for providing me with a copy of Hyphenated Relations in exchange for this honest review.
I have author Daniel Maunz to thank for getting this blog off to a great start. His first novel, Questions of Perspective, was the first physical copy book I accepted for review. I loved it and it confirmed for me that indie and self-published books can be phenomenal hidden gems. Had that first book been bad I may not have accepted any more!
Now his second novel, Hyphenated Relations, confirms this for me once again. He has written a marvelous piece of character driven fiction that is sure to entertain any reader. I read 100 pages the first day I sat down with it, it’s captivating.
The basic premise of the story is that Sam and Harold lost their respective partners 2 years prior when they were hit by a drunk driver. Sam lost her husband, the son of Harold’s wife who was in the same car that Mother’s day.
Sam and Harold did not keep in touch during this extended period of grieving so Sam is surprised when Harold shows up to her place out of the blue. He says he has fallen in love and intends on remarrying. He wants Sam to be involved in their lives, she is hesitant.
Marcie, the new woman in question has previously buried 4 husbands. She’s not a black widow she just has terrible misfortune. However, out of these marriages she was blessed with 4 children. Well, blessed is a strong word. She loves them but they’re a little awful.
The eldest, Jeremy, is an underachiever with everything except for being “in charge” of the siblings. He also has an inappropriate crush on the adopted sibling Sadie. She is not a blood relative but Marcie thinks of her as her own. Sadie is extremely manipulative and uses the people in her life as props. Then we have Miguel, the gay son who is the kindest but also the weakest willed and Colin, the mooching recluse.
The siblings meet up to brainstorm how to stop this wedding from happening. The reader isn’t fully enlightened to their reasoning until a ways into the novel but we know it’s not going to be valid, only selfish.
As Sam gets more involved with the family she finds herself opposing the siblings. How will she save the marriage and repair her relationship with Harold? It’s 4 against 1 in this family drama of epic proportions.
I felt a great kinship with protagonist Sam. She too is a book reviewer in her spare time so clearly we have that in common. But I have also been through a lot of what she goes through in Hyphenated Relations. Not to get too personal but years ago I lost someone very close to me and had to suffer with their siblings showing their absolute worst sides. Unfortunately, deaths can trigger people to behave in disgusting and greedy ways. Just remember, it’s okay to cut people out of your life and don’t let money and possessions control your actions.
The other silly point of the novel for which I felt a synergy is a little dog named Samus. I too have a new puppy named after a character in a video game and am trying to train her. Weird little coincidence but I feel like this book was written just for me. Don’t think that taints my opinion though! I believe Hyphenated Relations would stand up even without these coincidences!
The characters are strongly developed and individual. Each character has a distinct personality and a reason to be in the story. There are some you will like and some you definitely will not, there’s a realistic balance and everyone has nuance. Maunz has a clear understanding of human interactions and how people behave in various situations.
There are powerful depictions of grief and other strong emotions. Everyone handles these things differently and there’s no “right” way to grieve. Although, there may be a couple of wrong ones.
The ending of the book is solid. I’m always looking for a well written ending, and well, an ending. Too many books are a surprise part 1 of a larger series. Hyphenated Relations doesn’t play that game. It has a meaningful ending that suits the plot and the characters and will leave readers satisfied.
I strongly encourage you to read both of Maunz’s novels and support indie authors everywhere!
5/5 families 👨👩👧👧👨👩👧👧👨👩👧👧👨👩👧👧👨👩👧👧
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