Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
Megan Nolan is a fantastic Irish writer from Waterford - so of course we had to read her debut novel Acts of Desperation, what with us being a Waterford grown company. This book is a real and raw piece of work that is most certainly not for the faint hearted, for those of you who love a gushing romance or those whose love lies with fiction. This is a real life work. This fierce piece of literature, with its graphic and compelling detail and imagery, really enables the reader to step into the shoes of a young woman searching for love and meaning throughout this life that can be difficult to navigate whilst stepping into true adulthood. With a completely toxic, passive aggressive and violent relationship at the forefront of the story, this brave peace of work is one of honest tragedy and red flags.
Based around a series of unhealthy relationships the main character has experienced in her life, past, present and future, the readers main focus is navigated to the attention of Ciaran, her current love who is an older man with a cold and heartless (or lack of) personality. Whenever Nolan mentioned the word silence goose-bumps would appear on our arms with previous reference to Ciaran’s ignorant passive aggressiveness through the medium of silence.
With a silence as deafening as a Guns and Roses live set, Ciaran is not a compromising or compassionate man. He has a dark streak that appeared, from the beginning, like warning bells to the reader. However, these early red flags and warning signals are not navigated by the protagonist and if anything, compel her to want him more. Although you may feel the need to shout ‘HE’S BEHIND YOU’ as the audience, this is what allows the reader to understand why and how we turn our blind spots off for those who we adore, which ultimately leads this book to be the real and relatable book it is. The relationships described throughout the novel have led the protagonist to where she is today, in Athens, reminiscing on her life, experiences and situations she has found herself in over and over again that have shaped (or misshaped) who she is today.
The toxicity of her and Ciaran’s relationship can be found easily within the books title. Containing real life references without trigger warnings to blood, self-harm and tragedy, the reader soon learns of the path this relationship will take if it is to continue, and continue it does. This is often the case when love appears to be the most important thing in a person’s life and no other life-threatening fatality can compare to the loss of a loved one, not even a series of self-harm stints.
Regardless of the many hard-to-read moments throughout the novel, Nolan should be commended for the absolute fearless courage needed to write a piece such as this. Her passion for bringing such toxic yet consistently real instances to life, particularly in a culture that was, in the past, silent and dismissive about such topics, is incredibly commendable and powerful.
The idea of loneliness without being alone is a proxy throughout this novel but nonetheless intuitive. It offers the reader insight into how those you choose to surround yourself with will affect all aspects of your life and how those we hold dearest may not be the ones that deserve it. This novel teaches us that we can be surrounded by people and feel the loneliest we have ever felt.
The power dynamic is one of dynamite throughout the story. One may find themselves rooting for the protagonist as she attempts to reclaim her power through keeping secrets, particularly in regards to how much alcohol she consumes, but not even secrets can save her from a violent ending that leaves the reader ultimately speechless.
Although titled Acts of Desperation, this novel can be considered an act of bravery and fearlessness. Congratulations to Megan Nolan on the debut and we can’t wait to see what 2021 brings for her work.
We hope you get a chance to give it a read and don’t forget to read more books!
Visit Megan Nolans website here if you would like to find out more about her.
The Reading Snug x