Tangled Mind by Posy Roberts
Tangled Mind reviewed by Christopher Stone
After you’ve purchased this book, please forget the title until it’s time for you to recommend Posy Roberts’ five-star novella to your friends and family. There is nothing tangled, twisted, or in any way convoluted, about this sometimes brutal, but always compelling, story about addiction, codependency, friendship, grief, healing, love, and reinvention.
If there’s one thing worse than witnessing your heroin-addicted lover take his last breath – with no way of helping - it might be, afterwards, having most everyone you know believe that your lover’s passing was the best that could happen for you, because his life of addiction and struggle was ruining your own.
And yet, these are the circumstances that Beck Lund encounters during Tangled Mind’s spellbinding opening pages.
Brady, for a decade the highly flawed love of Beck’s life has overdosed, and almost everyone sees it as a blessing in disguise for Beck – Beck disagrees strongly.
For the surviving partner of this ten-year-old relationship, salt is rubbed deeply into Beck’s tender and deep, open wounds, by those who claim Brady’s passing is for the best.
This would be horrific enough if Beck were simply feeling loss. But loss is just the opening salvo in a long parade of distressing emotions with which Beck Lund is coping. He’s also juggling fear, guilt, loneliness, creative ennui, remorse, sorrow, and more.
Yes, Beck Lund requires healing, big-time. But to whom, or what, can he turn?
Therapy and support groups help, but they are inherently limited. A group that offers self-expression and uplift through poetry writing opens a fresh creative door for Beck, an art teacher. But he needs so much more.
As it happens, the young widower need look no further for unconditional help and support than Timothy Kallis, the best friend who has long harbored a secret love for him.
Beck’s downward emotional spiral continues – he’s deteriorating rapidly – on the brink of trying the Big H, when Tim intervenes.
Understanding that Beck is no longer able - either emotionally or financially - to remain in the home he shared with Brady, Tim invites him to share his large house.
Letting go of the home he shared with his lover – a house in which he’d experienced both agony and ecstasy - challenges Beck. Finally deciding it is the healthy, right thing to do, he overcomes his conflicted feelings and moves in with Tim.
Combining households, even under the best of conditions, is hard to do. And the circumstances surrounding Tim and Beck’s cohabitation are far from the best. After a somewhat dicey period of adjustment – do we use your blender in the kitchen, or mine? - Beck and Tim peacefully coexist in what had once been the latter’s domain.
Posy Roberts excels at writing crisply, plainly and simply about complex subjects, including codependency, addiction, homelessness, neediness, and unconditional love.
Tangled Mind takes on all of these things, and then some, with crystal clarity, and surgical-like precision. The author never rants longer than necessary in making her points. She knows exactly when and where to put the button on a scene. Either Posy Roberts is an especially good editor, or she worked with one.
I loved a subplot in which Beck helps a homeless man in need of decent clothing for a job interview.
His courtesy enables the guy to gain employment and a second chance at personal dignity and successful living. Only later does Beck learn that it was drug addiction – the very same ill to which his dead spouse succumbed – that had caused the man’s homelessness.
Beck’s long journey from despair to hope is most engaging.
Shrewdly the author doesn’t paint Beck’s cohabitation with Tim as a panacea for what ails him. It is what it is: one important step on the long and rocky road to healing.
As for Tim’s secret love for Beck, I’ll leave it for you to discover whether or not he eventually shouts it to the highest hills, even telling the golden daffodils.
But this I will reveal: Without reservation, I recommend Tangled Mind. It is a hard to set down read. With hope, I look forward to a possible second novella from the author – one continuing Beck and Tim’s story.