Kyo Maclear is one of those writers who has floated just below my radar for some time now and I’m not quite sure why. Her first novel for adults was The Letter Opener. I was always attracted to it, but never picked it up. I don’t know why. So when Stray Love came out I was more than just a little bit curious.
At its heart Stray Love is about the search for identity. Each of the characters is a little bit lost, a little bit unhinged, and searching for who they may be and who they may belong to. The protagonist is a boy of unknown and mixed ethnic origin raised by a man who is not his father after his mother runs away. However, he is only one character searching for where he fits int he world. Mixed and unknown parentage is a recurring theme for many of the characters.
I didn’t love Stray Love but I am certainly glad I read it. The writing is solid, though I found the ending to be a bit unresolved. I wanted a little bit more about the protagonist’s present day life. One can imagine that his life may arch towards happiness if the right decision is made, but one does not know for sure.
Who would like this book? One of my favorite aspects of this novel is that the locations – London and Saigon – play such an important role in the telling of the story. This will be a recurring theme in my reviews – I love to travel whether it is in real life or in a book. Stray Love also gives important insight into issues of race and acceptance in 1960s England. However, if you are looking for a happy feel good read, this may not be the novel for you. Characters’ issues are left unresolved and I wonder if any of them will ever find true happiness and get past the scars of an unfulfilled childhood.