This is the type of story Mitchell does best. It has great characterization and focuses on the couple. Jamie and Gavin are alike in many ways. They both build up walls to keep everyone at arm's length because they're afraid to be hurt if they let someone in. Jamie is arrogant, cynical, assertive, and says whatever is on his mind. Galvin on the other hand has this cloud of loneliness and isolation that surrounds him. He's giving and has a big heart but he's also insecure, he's always worried that he'll disappoint people and this leads to a shit load of guilt and a sense of failure.
What I love is that none of these character attributes were over-the-top or felt forced. Each layer added to another dimension of the characters. IMO, this is Mitchell's strong suit. I loved the subtle way she worked in the MC's backgrounds.
So we have to two men that are afraid of commitment and can't open up to each other. Neither of them understand the other's motives. They are constantly confused by what the other says or does and they never talk to each other or explain their actions. This is basically the entire book and it only leads to frustration, both on their part and the readers. Personally, I actually felt more sadness than frustration. I hated that Jamie had this negative attitude and automatically looked for the worst in people. Then we have Galvin who is living in this haze, always feeling invisible and that he could never please or live up to people's expectations. It was disheartening.
However, little by little they slipped through each other's walls. It was difficult and even by the end I still got the feeling they had a long way to go.
My biggest complaint is the ending. I thought the whole Beach situation and ring story line was weak and thrown in to move the story along just to get to the big dramatic ending. It felt like the additional drama covered up the issues and problems the MC's were having. This probably wouldn't have been such a big deal if there was another chapter or an epilogue but as it stands I felt like a door was slammed shut. I'm glad that everything wasn't tied up in a nice neat bow but I still wanted a little more closure.
My favorite quote which sums up the tone of the book for me: It wasn't fear of pain that kept Gavin rooted in his head instead of giving in to the sensations of his body. It was yielding this way, knowing that if they went further, he'd be giving a piece of himself, opening more than his body, exposing himself to much more than physical hurt.
A Mitchell book I'm sure I'll be revisiting.