Matthew Turner's 'I Unlove You' is a startling and unconventional romance novel

Matthew Turner

I Unlove You by Matthew Turner begins with a nightmare of Aus’ girlfriend Beatrice.  Ausdylan Elvis Ashford wakes up broken, naked, and alone with a pile of vomit next to him inside of some unknown bathroom – he is a mess and his life is a never-ending nightmare.  Beatrice had done this to him.

Aus accepts a graphic designing job at a corporation after graduating from uni.  And finds himself lost in the humdrum of life after accepting the basic 9 to 5 job as a graphic designer.

The work he has entered is the exact thing he and his best friend Joe had opposed of all those long years ago.  He remembers sitting at a pub when he and Joe were younger as their fathers grabbed a few beers not too far from them.  The two young boys prophesized about the state of music and how in a few years they could represent all sorts of bands through the Internet.  How everything would be on the web anyways, and how their lives would be dictated by great music that would be as they described it “better than sex.”  In the present day, Joe fears Aus is just wasting his life by working a corporate job, joining the daily grind and by being with the same girl since he was fifteen.

His perfect world comes to a halt when Beatrice announces that she is pregnant.  “Now I’m a father, a purpose placed before me without permission or warning.  I’ve dreamt of this moment so many times before and so many others like it.  It never felt like this.  I never felt like this.”

His reaction is the opposite of happy when he learns he is about to be a father.  In fact, as the day of his child’s birth nears, he grows more frantic and worried.  Anxiety leaks into his life until he couldn’t sleep, concentrate or think of anything else.  He was too young to be a father.  He was only twenty-two with his life still ahead of him.  He finds himself staring at the calm façade of B.  Already he’s seeing her in a different light.  Already their perfect and comfortable relationship was on the rocks and the baby wasn’t even here yet.

He knows this is something he wants with B.  But he just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he was going to be a father.

He grew up with parents whose bond grew as time passed.  When he found B, he knew he had found “the relationship” further immersing himself in the “goo, screwy, silly kind of love that couldn’t possibly exist yet must, as it did between (his) parents.”

Aus slowly begins to freak out.  He has always looked to his father and sees him as a superhero.  He would read comic books and picture him as one of the X-men or Spiderman, as this huge protector and monster-beater.  Soon his son or daughter will look up to him like that.  But Aus fears that they will see through him.  That he is no hero.  He finds himself lacking in that department.

Aus is just getting over his pre-jitters as a new father when B drops the bomb that he is not the father.

What happens next will change every preconceived notion Aus will have of a girl he thought he knew.  It seems like B has a crushing secret that she has kept from Aus all this time.  A secret that will change the course of events and that once unraveled can never be taken back.

It seems like B has been living a second life.  Fashion show outings, nights she spent helping her mother are magnified and given a new light after Aus learns of her infidelity.  The signs were there all along but because of his love for B, he had always turned a blind eye to these excuses.  Now with the proof gathered from a hacker, Aus could no longer lie to himself and he could no longer let B lie to him.  Aus is carried underneath by the grief of losing the girl he loved and finding out he never really knew her.  And moving on, as he finds out is harder than it looks.

I Unlove You is written in the close first-person narrative that resembles the confessional styles of Nick Hornby and John Green.  We really get an intimate look into these characters lives and see their angsts and an inside look into the interworkings of these impressionable people.

My only complaint about the book is that the scene transitions were sudden and abrupt.  There was little to no easing in.

There were sudden and incessant flashbacks throughout the text that makes the transitional shifts harder to track.  Oftentimes the reader gets unsettled by the realities of the characters because we have no real inkling of where one scene ends or begins.  More buildup needs to occur.  Because of this, the novel sounds a little rushed.

Overall, this was a romance novel that is not your unconventional love story.  It shows the realities of relationships and how sometimes they just don’t work out.

This is a memorable novel.  Highly recommended for fans of David Nicholls and Collen Hoover.

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My Nguyen

My Nguyen is an album reviewer from San Diego, CA. She regularly contributes to Her work has appeared in the following journals: Quietpoly, Community Voices, Espresso 1, The Whistling Fire, The Pedestal Magazine, The Straylight Magazine, Baby Lawn Literature, and Conceit Magazine.

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