STARRED REVIEW
June 07, 2016

A perfectly imperfect love story

By Liz Kay
Review by
They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.
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They say misery loves company, and that’s certainly the case in Monsters: A Love Story.

Poet Stacey Lane is grieving the recent death of her husband, Michael. Grad-school sweethearts, Michael and Stacey built a life and were raising two young sons in his hometown of Omaha. After his death, her future has become a big question mark.

Then Stacey gets the last email she ever expected to receive: A studio is interested in taking her provocative novel-in-verse, Monsters in the Afterlife, to the big screen, and they want her to consult on the adaptation. Stacey is whisked away to a remote island to meet with a team of actors, producers and writers. Once there, the prickly, acerbic Stacey finds herself drawn to the movie’s A-list star, Tommy DeMarco: To her surprise, the notorious playboy is the one who fell in love with Stacey’s very cerebral, feminist book. Amid high-stakes Hollywood meetings, screenwriting sessions and after-work nightcaps, Stacey and Tommy find themselves in a passionate, secret relationship. Soon enough, Stacey must choose between stability and taking the risk of discovering whether her connection with Tommy will survive everyday life.

Like Stacey’s novel-in-verse, poet Liz Kay’s debut novel feels like a natural book-to-film adaptation. The all-too-human protagonists are undeniably dysfunctional—both fond of drinking and, in Stacey’s words, “a little slutty”—but there is something appealing about them that makes the reader root for their success. Kay has created a heartfelt, sometimes dark but ultimately romantic story about what happens when two broken people come together.

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