Andrew Auseon’s latest novel “Freak Magnet” is not your typical romance story. There’s plenty of boy-girl romantic angst, but this novel is so much more than just a love story. Charlie, the freak, and Gloria, the magnet, alternate telling the story in chapters appropriately titled “Freak” or “Magnet”, until the very last one called “Freak Magnet.” Although Gloria gets her chance to speak, this is very much Charlie’s story and the novel begins with the first time he sees Gloria and is instantly attracted to her.
Charlie is different. He has his head in the clouds and has more interest in the stars and tracking potential comets than anything reality has to offer, until he sees Gloria. Lacking in social skills or the ability to control anything he says, Charlie chases Gloria out of a coffee shop so he can tell her that she is the most beautiful person he has ever seen. Gloria is used to freaks trying to get her attention and quickly dismisses Charlie as just another entry for her freak folio, her logbook of all freak encounters, but there’s something about him that makes her take a second look.
Both Charlie and Gloria are at a crossroads in their lives when they need to make a connection with someone else or risk letting their individual grief overwhelm them. Although Gloria has shut everyone out of her life, Charlie is able to penetrate her angry exterior. The freak becomes the magnet.
Auseon manages to write Gloria’s perspective just as well as Charlie’s and reading both points of view enhances the story. Interspersed throughout Gloria’s chapters are poems written by Auseon’s wife Sarah Zogby. “Freak Magnet” is well written and has enough humor and action to entice readers who don’t normally read romance. But readers looking for a good romance will not be disappointed. One gets the sense that “Freak Magnet” is a little biographical and that Auseon drew from his own relationship with Zogby and that definitely adds to the romance.
All of that came from my examiner review (apologies if you already read it there.) But I can be more informal here and use words like "I." So let me add that one of the reasons I loved this book is because for most of the novel Charlie wears a Superman costume underneath his clothes. He does it to give himself strength, to make himself feel like he had things in control. We all say "I'm going to channel my inner so-and-so" when we need a little extra help in a situation, well, Charlie took it one step further. One of the reasons I loved this so much is because I DO THIS. Not with a full Superman costume. But when I feel like things (i.e. the three wee ones in the house) are slipping out of my control I tend to put my Wonder Woman shirt on. When I'm planning a run on the treadmill and know I need an extra boost, I wear my Wonder Woman shirt. I didn't think Charlie was crazy. While I was reading I remember thinking "I hear ya brother!"
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