Ever been in love? I'm sure many of you have. How deeply do or did you love this person? What if this person didn't return your affections? How far would you go to profess your love for this person? Would you let this love consume your life? Is it love or obsession? I was thinking all of those things while reading The Lost Button by Irene Rozdobudko.
Dan a.k.a. Denys was coming of age in 1970s Ukraine. At 18, the impressionable film student took a trip to a vacation resort where he meets a mysterious actress. Elyzaveta Tenetska, a.k.a Liza, immediately captivates Denys' heart. One night in the woods and Denys knows that this woman is the love of his life. Liza doesn't quite feel the same. She seemed like a person who lived in the moment. During their time together Liza gave Denys all her attention and compassion. Out in the woods they're in their own world.
When it's time to go back to reality, Denys can't get Liza out of his head. His "love" for Liza bordered on obsession. She seemed more like his drug than an actual object of his affection. When he tries to reach out to her at school, Denys is rejected. He doesn't know what to do with himself. He went to school to dodge military service, but now fighting a war seems like a better option. He has a thirst to kill someone. Maybe the desire to kill someone will help him forget Liza.
"I won't say that I forgot her and didn't look for her. I looked. Till the time when I came to the conclusion: in the end, everyone aspires for just one thing - love, saying it in a different way- recognition. This searching can lead you just about anywhere - to terrorism, feminism, fascism, just anywhere. Whoever doesn't want to disappear into oblivion, but who doesn't have any talent, strives in any way to make himself be known." (Pg. 59)
If he doesn't have Liza, then he needs a distraction. For a time, the military was that distraction. Then work became a distraction, but Denys never seems comfortable in his skin. On impulse he gets engaged to a woman he knew for all of a couple of hours. So impulsive right? To add an extra creepy factor, the young woman, Anzhelika a.k.a Lika, turns out to be Liza's daughter. That seemed like too much of a coincidence. Did Denys seek Lika out intentionally? No I don't think so. But he doesn't confess his connection to Liza. If he can't have Liza, then he can be close to her by marrying her daughter. It's just so wrong.
Lika was really in love, but she's in love with a lie. Just as Liza consumed Denys' life, Lika is consumed by her husband. His life is her life. When the truth finally comes out the book takes an interesting turn. I don't want to say too much, but Lika literally becomes a different person. When the life she knew is take away, Lika is lost. She lost her voice. Who is she without Denys?
Overall it's a good story, but I feel like I missed something. Sometimes I had trouble following the plot. The storyline isn't linear. The narration shifts between Liza, Lika, and Denys. This is a book that I have to read again. I think I'll understand it more with a second read.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Glagoslav Publications) in exchange for an honest review.