Book review | Love and Other Sins by Emilia Ares
Author: Emilia Ares
No. of pages: 317
Genre: YA romance
Published on: 19th October 2021
Published by: Sera Press
My rating: ★★★★☆
Mina's life is going according to plan; she's acing AP Calc and is perfectly content with her nonexistent social life. Though only a high school junior, Mina knows time is an investment, and she's putting all her capital into academics. Oliver, a child abuse survivor who grew up in the foster care system, is ready to burn down his old life and start from scratch-complete with a new name and emancipation papers-in L.A. When the two are thrown together through circumstance and develop an unexpected connection, they discover how hard it is to keep the past in the past.
Love and Other Sins is an emotional coming-of-age YA drama about family, love, violence, and the residue of abuse set against the backdrop of contemporary Los Angeles. When Mina meets Oliver, you'll remember your own first love and just how fast it swept you under.
What were the bonds that bound us?
Was it purely physical attraction?
Or perhaps it was a mutual gravitation toward inevitable pain.
What happens when messed-up-girl meets messed-up-boy and they both fall in love with each other? They have a messed-up-love story. Mina, a Russian immigrant in America, has her own load of family troubles and school bullying when she decides to move to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Oliver, who grew up being passed on from one foster home to another, going through sexual abuse, decides to leave his live in Santa Clarita and move to Los Angeles.
As it turns out, both are attracted to one another— at first sight itself. Its too true to be good, but let's just keep it at that. As they both come to know each other, unravelling each other's past, they'll either bring each other down or move onwards together.
The story is undeniably clichéd. Both characters bearing trauma, meet each other, fall in love, go through some dark times together, and soon falls apart just when they are about to get close, then help each other find their true self, go through trouble again, fall apart, and on and on. But what stood out for me in this book is the way it had me hooked.
I don't know if it was the writing, or the characters, but there was something electrifying about the story that kept me looking towards the next chapter just to check if Mina and Oliver are getting well along or if they are falling apart.
Neither Mina nor Oliver are likable. But their lives make them interesting. There's this palpable tension that the author creates between them that had me hooked. I mean, their love at first sight scenario was all it took me to get invested in their love story. I'm pretty certain that these characters and how badly they are attracted to one other is almost unbelievable, but the way their interactions are portrayed had me weak in my knees.
Their story is legit a roller-coaster ride. For every high in their relationship, you'll receive a low in the following chapter. Also, Mina's relationship with her mother needs a special mention, because it had such a big impact on the story, it would be a shame if I overlooked it.
Mina's Russian background was an interesting addition to the story, as it brought out a lot about her character. And I especially loved the way the author dealt with Oliver's characterization revolving his anger issues and sexual frustrations given his history. It felt as if Oliver was being carefully delivered to the readers. You'll either hate him or sympathise him. But you'll never bring yourself to love him because of his flaws that he doesn't want to acknowledge. And this is why his character needs Mina. Mina frustrated me. Her bad decisions and her pride gets in the way of everything, and her character knows and acknowledges that. Hence the perfect fit for Oliver. Only Mina can put him in his place alongside caring for him and loving him, with all his flaws.
The writing style is highly alluring. It might get over-the-top at times, but it brings back the proper pace and setting. You get the vibe. It's neither too descriptive or filled with dialogues, it has just the right balance. My favourite thing about the writing style is that we get both Mina and Oliver's perspectives and it's refreshing to read about these characters for one another's view.
Emilia Ares is an American film and television actress. Love and Other Sins is her debut novel. She graduated UCLA with a BA in Economics, and a minor in Russian. Literature and storytelling have always been her true passion.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.