Review: Textual Encounters by Morgan Parker

TE 1 Cover

4.5 pleasantly surprised Stars

Communication. It’s often the factor that makes or breaks a relationship. And it’s probably the hardest thing for people to learn. Luckily in this day and age there are not only a plethora of modes of communication, but there are also many different levels of acceptable communication. There’s electronic communication, face-to-face, nonverbal, gifts, writing – there are tons of ways to convey your thoughts to those important to you, no matter the message. But regardless of the myriad of ways we all have with which to communicate, if the other person disappears, it doesn’t matter how well you communicate or how creative your methods. If there’s no one there to talk to, you’re all alone.

This book is told primarily through text messages between two people – Jake and Christine – who meet through a wrong number text, take it as fate and start chatting. What began as idle chatter quickly morphs into a deeper connection. I never in a million years expected to get so invested in two characters that I only know through what they choose to tell each other. There’s no inner monologue, there’s no outside reference points to give you context for their actions or words, there’s not even a real description of what either of them look like. And yet, I was still completely sucked into their burgeoning relationship.

I wanted them to work. I wanted Christine to move from Toronto back to New York City to be with Jake. I wanted them to ride off into the sunset. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I really realized how totally wrapped up in these characters I had become. How much I wanted them to work out. Jake is so willing to throw his heart out there and put it all on the line and Christine is so funny, sassy and sweet. It was also at the end though that I started feeling like there was an undercurrent that hadn’t been fully defined yet. There’s a building mystery between these two people and the lives we know so little about that glides next to them, popping its head above water occasionally enough to make you stop mid-sentence and wonder what just happened.

Morgan Parker has written a fully unexpected book. I didn’t expect to find such depth in something as one-dimensional as text messages. I didn’t expect to be as invested in the characters. I didn’t expect this story to engage so many parts of me – hopeless romantic, intellect and passion. And I certainly didn’t expect the story to have the twists and turns it ends up with.

Parker is exquisitely talented in stripping down interpersonal communication to its bare bones without stripping away any of its meaning. He uses short, straightforward sentences to tell a story chock full of heart and that is an extraordinary talent. He has managed, through some sort of previously undiscovered literary magic, to create characters that weave their into you as you read their middle of the night texts and sit in suspense waiting for the other to respond.

Let yourself be swept away in this book. Let yourself get irrationally involved in these characters. Let Morgan Parker woo you with his words.

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