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At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph – Book Review

A novel about love, queer relationships and loss, Lauren John Joseph’s At Certain Points We Touch is an epic saga that focuses on the narrator’s disappointing relationship. A maturely written debut novel, these 384 pages will explore in great depth those toxic relationships that people struggle to extricate themselves from, though with an unusual twist.

Looking back ten years prior on 29th February, the narrator of our novel, a nameless trans woman, considers a first love and relationship that was deeply affecting. Thomas James, who uniquely had his birthday on 29th February, was flirtatious, intense, playful, and crept under the skin of this narrator.  In a relationship that centers around power-play, control, and toxicity, our main character is aware (in hindsight) of the upsetting elements of this relationship. Looking back through art, correspondence, and memory, the narrator gives their version of the intoxicating affair that came to a crashing end, with many traumatising surprises.

Incorporating stunning prose with astute observation, John Joseph’s novel has deservingly had praise from the likes of Olivia Laing and Ali Smith. It travels across London to San Francisco to New York and back to London, and gives a real flavour to the settings, whether it be a wide shot of the city (mostly London is what we get a real sense of here) or the confines of friend’s apartments. A novel with a viably strong and remorseful voice, At Certain Points We Touch doesn’t feel like a debut; masterful and contemporary, it reads like a classic of our times. A remarkable piece of fiction that details a relationship simultaneously vacuous and intoxicating, this is a debut that’ll astonish any reader.   

At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph is out now, published by Bloomsbury.

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