The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

radius of usI don’t even know where to begin in describing how much I fell in love with this book. Seriously, if you care about anything – diversity, love, life – you NEED to read The Radius of Us. This is an exquisite story about overcoming your past and building a brighter future. It’s full of hope and light and everything wonderful in the world. I laughed and cried and even now I just cannot get this book out of my head.

Gretchen is recovering from a hit and run that has left her with panic attacks and vivid memories that send her spiraling during everyday events. Phoenix is trying to forget his horrific past in El Salvador and focus on his asylum case and taking care of his younger brother Ari, who is traumatized after their journey to the US border. These two make an unlikely pair, but they soon realize that they each might be exactly what the other needs.


What? You thought I was going to talk about all of the delicate and hard topics The Radius of Us addresses beautifully? I’ll get to that in a moment, but really, I think everyone should know that this book is going to leave them with a growling stomach. I wanted pupusas so badly while I read this that I went out the day I finished it in the middle of a snowstorm to hunt some down in Salt Lake City. It was a beautiful moment. If you don’t know what pupusas are, you should read this book just for the perfect description of their deliciousness.

Okay. I guess we can talk about the hard topics now. The Radius of Us deals with:

  • Assault
  • PTSD
  • Panic Attacks
  • Gang Violence
  • Sexual Assault
  • Illegal Immigration
  • Torture

In any other book I might think that those are far too many hard issues for one story, but truly, I cannot stress this enough, Marie Marquardt does things right here. She doesn’t sugarcoat the negative or the horrific, but she also doesn’t try to use it to ramp up the dramatic effect. The horrible things are just part of the story – they fit, and it never feels like a book that’s trying to sensationalize or understate the issues. At its heart, this story is about forgiveness – for others and for yourself – and moving on, including all of the complications that come with trying to do that.

It’s a gorgeous love story, which just happens to be a well-executed social commentary at the same time. It’s unputdownable. Unprecendented. What I’m trying to say is… stop reading this review and go read this book. NOW!

Rating: 5+/5 stars 

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