Despite all of the odds stacked up against him, Dane has made something of himself. His mother died when he was a small boy and his abusive, drunk father told him over and over that he was nobody. The first chance he got, Dane ran. In New York, Dane became a doctor and he found Craig. Craig, a sweet, talented artist who got his attention in a dynamic way and was completely devoted to Dane.
Dane and Craig spent six years together. Their friends knew they were a couple, but Dane kept his private life quiet at work. His only confidant is Sabrina. Sabrina, who has her own agenda and the sight of her makes Craig’s skin crawl. But Dane is relieved to have a friend at work and at times likes the attention Sabrina gives him, but other times he is trying to back away from the inappropriate lines she keeps crossing.
When Dane’s past overtakes him, he breaks, and then he falls. Thinking he then has nothing left to lose, he sets fire to his life with Craig and the fallout is explosive and complete. Craig, who was ready to see Dane through everything, sends him packing. Two years later and Dane has had therapy and has managed to salvage a few friendships and his career. But, it’s Craig he can’t forget. As Dane sets out to repair his relationship with the man, it may just be that Craig can’t forgive. If Dane can just get Craig to listen to him, they can show each other that not everything is at it seems.
The title, The Anatomy of Perception, is what first drew me to this book. And, it is a completely appropriate and fitting title. As Dane is a doctor, the word anatomy works well, and Craig really helps Dane to see that by just shifting your focus, even ever so slightly, your entire perception can shift.
This book had me at the first chapter, which starts out in the present. It’s been two years since Dane had a psychotic break and it’s been two years since he has made contact with Craig. It was intriguing right up front to see how these guys were going to sort it all out. The story is told solely from Dane’s perspective. And, while many times I prefer a dual perspective, Dane’s sole perspective absolutely works for this story as it is primarily his story. Where this book excelled for me is the descriptive style used to get inside Dane’s head. He had been hiding from his abusive father for so long, and that permeated into every aspect of his life. There is a great sense of where Dane is now and how far he has come. We learn less about Craig as a person, but his commitment, dedication, and love for Dane is well drawn.
The book shifts every chapter from the present to the past. At first this worked well for me. As the early part of the book went on however, we are basically told the overall story. So then, the flashbacks expand the story and fill in details. This did not always work for me. One reason was that I had already been told the story and then some of the flashbacks became rather lengthy and were filled with a lot of extraneous information. Sabrina, Dane’s colleague, is a huge portion of the story. So to see their connection we see them at work, which was vital to the plot. But at times, the book read like an episodic medical show. There would lengthy passages about a random hospital patient and their disease. On one hand we got well researched writing, but then on the other hand we got in depth detail of kidney disease, a torn ACL, and skin cancer for characters that did not advance the story line. Craig also teaches an art class for autistic children. We then get a description of the paintings of several of the children in the class. I would have much preferred to have seen more of Dane and Craig in their early days and falling in love. We see how they met and how Craig really went all out to get Dane’s attention, but then we don’t see them start to date or fall in love. For the most part, the flashbacks are at various points later in their relationship where things were fair or falling apart. This style really took away from seeing the intense connection that we are told the men had.
Sabrina is a character that is not supposed to be likable and the author does a great job of showing that. There were many times that I felt the story was more about Dane and Sabrina, as we saw almost more of their interactions than interactions between Dane and Craig in the flashbacks. Dane’s father is also shown in flashbacks. He is the catalyst for the entire story. Yet, we get glimpses of him where his actions are told and not shown to us. This lessened the intended impact his father was supposed to have for me and left me with several questions on areas that were not fully explained well.
There were a few areas that I felt the story could have been streamlined to bring the main characters into better focus. The story tackles a difficult subject of mental illness brought on by childhood abuse. At times the writing is evocative and it shows Dane’s struggle to move past his demons, find some peace, and grab hold of a second chance.