Love in Case of Emergency by Daniela Krien
Published by HarperVia
Publication date: April 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Cultural, Fiction, Literary
Can I just say I love this cover and leave it at that? Probably not, but I really love this cover and wanted to feel the same way about the book. This is also an admission on my part that I don’t have a magical formula or innate gift for picking outstanding reading. Sometimes, I’m hoping the cover ties directly to the contents—at least as a metaphor. In Love in Case of Emergency this is not untrue, but the connection is superficial. Each of the five women in the novel are at jumping off points in their lives.
Paula, Judith, Brida, Malika, and Jorinde are linked one by one in Love in Case of Emergency. Paula and Judith are college friends; Judith helps Brida; Brida steals Malika’s great love; Malika is Jorinde’s older sister. Author Daniela Krien keeps confusion to a minimum by giving each character her own chapter. Each presents a distinctly different version of woman. There is bookseller, doctor, writer, teacher, actress. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, wives.
It’s an ambitious undertaking as the women pass through a wide variety of life traumas, some greater than others, all recognizable. But in an effort to illustrate these issues Krien chooses to go to extremes with each woman, making Love in Case read more like a psychology textbook. Even with emotion, there is either none at all (Judith) or an overabundance (Malika). The men get the same treatment except they are without nuance and almost universally unlikable. Again, they live in the realm of extremes, whether parent or partner, they are controlling and demanding, covering a spectrum of fringe views from authoritarianism to environmental zealotry.
Without realizing it, I stumbled into a brief streak of German authors translated into English. On Wednesday I reviewed The High-Rise Diver, and now, Love in Case of Emergency. There is enough similarity between the two to make me wonder if cultural differences come into play. Both are written with a sterile feeling that works in High-Rise because it reinforces the dystopian nature of the story. In Love in Case, a novel about relationships, the clinical tone leaves nothing to bind the reader to the page.
This stylistic disconnect is compounded by the novel’s final lines, which left me completely confounded. They insinuate something that would be essential to understanding Malika and Jorinde, yet land splattered on the page with no clues or explanation. The End. This abrupt disconnection pushed me from mild disinterest to a less-than-favorable impression of Love in Case of Emergency.
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*I received a free copy of this book from HarperVia in exchange for an honest review.*