Joyce's Reviews > Room for Two

Room for Two by Abel Keogh
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Jul 18, 2008

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bookshelves: non-fiction
Recommended to Joyce by: Candace Salima
Read in July, 2008

Please take this, not as a criticism, but as a mere comment about this book: If you are a “sensitive” reader, you might find the first three chapters of **Room for Two** a bit disturbing. Admittedly, I did myself (because I’m a “sensitive reader”).

That is by no means to say that there is not much of great value in Abel Keogh’s retelling of his journey to understand the reasons for his wife’s suicide, his struggles to forgive both her and himself for opportunities missed, and his difficult journey to find healing, peace and eventually, new love.

Because Keogh chooses to tell his story almost in novel fashion, rather than narrative, it is sometimes easy to forget that one is reading a “true story” and not a work of fiction. Swept along by the story, I frequently had to pause and remind myself that the experiences “Abel” was going through had happened to an actual, living, breathing person, and not to a character of fiction. The reminder is important, because that realization gives the book a whole different impact. In fact, the very incidents that disturbed me in the first three chapters, disturbed me **because** I knew they were “real” as opposed to “fictional”. A certain level of detachment usually comes with reading fiction. With that detachment stripped away, much of the opening became much more difficult for me, personally, to read.

Another difference: novels often tend to try to tie up difficult questions with easy answers. “Real life” is much more messy, and sometimes, there are questions that, quite simply, can never be answered. Keogh ultimately faces the “unanswerable” with honesty and faith.

This book should give readers new insights into an often overlooked segment of society. Divorces are so common, we are often quick to empathize with one side or the other. But a young widower of twenty-six? Keogh addresses the subject of awkward, well-meaning friends and family members seeking to help him “move on”, or perhaps worse, in all too many cases to “hold back”. He also faces the challenge of a potential new love who finds herself struggling to overcome the “ghost” of the woman he lost, not by choice (as too often happens in a divorce), but by an unexpected death. A woman he was still deeply in love with when the tragedy happened.

Eventually, Keogh learns how to make “room for two” in his heart, and puts at rest his new love’s fears.

The struggles he goes through should open all our eyes to anyone working their way through a similar experience, and make us more compassionate, less judgmental, and more understanding of how we can be supportive (rather than awkward) towards someone facing this kind of suffering.

In the end, however, **Room for Two** is not about suffering, but about hope. I recommend this book for the new insights you will gain while reading it. But if you’re a “sensitive reader”, you might want to gloss through the first three chapters, and dive in around Chapter 4.
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