Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce
~post by Katie P.
There are few novels more aptly titled than Love Me Back, the unflinching debut novel from Dallas writer Merritt Tierce. It’s a critical statement for Tierce’s protagonist, Marie, but it just as easily summarizes the fundamental plea of this novel itself. Love Me Back is an extraordinary combination of compulsively readable and very hard to read, which is a master stroke for a debut novelist to have carried off. But that is Tierce’s great accomplishment, and is what makes this title such a cornerstone: Readers are expected to grit their teeth and stare down what makes life ugly, because love means giving without the assurance of getting. Love is what drives Marie through her dangerous, self-sabotaging life, and love of Marie’s startling, poignant, and often gorgeous observations, even in desperate circumstances, is what drives us to read her story start to finish. We are handed a beating heart, and are asked to love it back.
Marie is a Dallas waitress (a profession Tierce held for years before starting her writing career), who wages a daily battle between the person she expected to become, the person she could still become, and the person she is. She tells her story honestly, which in some instances means brutally (partying with coworkers and some of her higher-paying clientele, risking her life in new ways almost daily) and in others means piercingly and poetically (describing her sleeping daughter’s eyelids, or her adoration of past lovers). What makes Marie so compelling a character is how close she is, how close Love Me Back is, to a “scared straight” narrative with bigger morals than emotions. But both are greater than the sum of their parts. Marie cannot be dismissed as beyond saving, because we know her observant, open, loving heart. Tierce’s novel cannot be lumped together with other fictional portrayals of addicts and wanderers, told in stark, purposefully alienating language, because we know its empathetic, intelligent, hopeful heart. This book will hurt you, and it will show you a thousand tiny, beautiful things while it does. And there’s a good chance that you will love it back.
Merritt Tierce will be in-store on September 29th at 7PM! She will be speaking and signing her book, Love Me Back which will be released the 9/16/14! Pre-order your signed copy today in-store or via bookpeople.com.