5 stars · British Columbian Content · canadian · Contemporary · diverse characters · general fiction · lgbtqia content · mental health · my faves · own voices author · self-discovery

REVIEW: After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan

The Official Description: A tragedy shatters Coen’s carefully constructed life.

When the airplane piloted by Elias Santos crashes one week before their wedding day, Coen Caraway loses the man he loves and the illusion of happiness he has worked so hard to create. The only thing Elias leaves behind is a recording of his final words, and even Coen is baffled by the cryptic message.

Numb with grief, he takes refuge on the Mexican island that was meant to host their wedding. But as fragments of the past come to the surface in the aftermath of the tragedy, Coen is forced to question everything he thought he knew about Elias and their life together. Beneath his flawed memory lies the truth about Elias — and himself.

From the damp concrete of Vancouver to the spoiled shores of Mexico, After Elias braids the past with the present to tell a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything.

Just the facts: fiction, emotional, surprising, LGBTQIA content

This was a beautiful story about grief, guilt, and the facades we create to help us when we need them the most. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Coen is staying at a lovely hotel and planning for a wedding when he hears the news that his partner’s plane has crashed. In fact, Coen’s partner – Elias – was the co-pilot. In a whirl of emotion and fear, Coen insists on family and friends coming down to the resort so they can turn what would have been their wedding into a celebration of life for Elias.

Through a mixture of the past and the present, Eddy Boudel Tan weaves a remarkable story. It’s not often that I am completely surprised by a story but this one caught me off guard. I will endeavor to keep spoilers from my review while still being clear about what makes it such a great book.

As the news of the crash begins to filter onto the news Coen learns that Elias’ last words were, “Pronto Dios.” It translates loosely as “soon God” and sparks questions and controversy around the crash and Elias’ involvement in it. And thus begins Coen’s search for the truth. How well do we really know the people in our lives? What do we need to know about them? Can we trust our instincts about the people that we love?

“Do not be fooled by happiness. It can wilt and die, especially when kept in a house of glass.” – Maria

The characters in this book are marvelous. Each one of them is significant and authentic, each of them contributing in some way to revealing little pieces of Elias’ and Coen’s lives. Decker and Vivi, Coen’s best friends are exactly the kinds of people that we should all want as best friends. Family has been a challenge for Elias and there are some significant and harsh reasons for that. Trust that the author reveals all that you need to know at the exact moment you need to read it. It’s quite a tale… and there are moments of joy and moments of pain woven together almost seamlessly.

From the very first moments of this novel, it’s clear that there’s something very important being revealed on the pages. This is not your average story; it will touch hearts and make people think. The events that happen in the past have a ripple-like effect on the future and things seem to come full circle for Coen by the end of the book. He begins on a journey to discover more about his partner’s life and along the way comes to terms with the things that have happened to him.

If you enjoy engaging, unique fiction then you should definitely add this one to your to-read pile. It is beautiful, haunting and I feel certain it is a book that I will reread in the future.

The Author: Eddy Boudel Tan is the author of two novels, After Elias (Fall 2020) and The Rebellious Tide (Summer 2021). His work depicts a world much like our own — the heroes are flawed, truth is distorted, and there is as much hope as there is heartbreak. ​As a queer Asian Canadian, Eddy celebrates diverse voices through his writing. When he isn’t plotting his next story or adventure abroad, he serves home-cooked meals to those living on the streets as cofounder of the Sidewalk Supper Project. He lives with his husband in Vancouver. Follow Eddy on Twitter (@eddyautomatic) or online (eddyboudeltan.com).

I received an ARC of After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan from Dundurn Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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