Danny Scheinmann's debut novel, Random Acts of Heroic Love , is a dual narrative tale. One part takes place in 1992, where Leo Deakin wakes up in hospital in Latin America to discover he has survived a bus crash which killed his girlfriend, Eleni. The second is the tale of Mortiz Daniecki who-against the backdrop of 1930s Germany-is telling the story of his experience in the First World War fighting for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, sustained by his love of Lotte.
This novel is both heartbreaking and hopeful, and I did enjoy it. As is often the case with dual narrative novels, I found myself more interested in the story of Moritz, mainly because I know very little about what happened to POWs during the First World War that were captured by the Russian forces. It was a really interesting and eye-opening part of the book. The slightly more up-to-date section was equally compelling, but almost harder to swallow as Scheinmann really does get deep into the head of someone suffering with severe grief.
The hope/grief divide does also effect the way the two main characters come across. Mortiz is generally more likeable as his hope drives him through severely challenging circumstances, whereas-much like Leo's friends-I found myself gradually losing patience with Leo as he continually refused to acknowledge his damaging behaviour. Elsewhere, characters like Keraly in Moritz's story was a character that certainly grew on you and Hannah, Leo's longtime friend, was probably my favourite-her own struggles with loss showed a totally different way of coping.
The only slight problems I had with this novel was occasionally the writing-especially in the Leo sections-became a little bogged down in metaphor and similes which weren't always necessary. Also, I'll admit as a totally non-sciencey person the long theoretical physics lectures were a little tiresome for me. All in all, though, this is a really great debut novel and I'm excited for when Scheinmann's next work is released.