Bloody hell, being a teenager is hard isn’t it. I remember it so well – the agony of indecision, the lack of knowledge about who the actual fuck I actually was and what was I meant to be doing. Luckily for me, I grew up in an environment which was fairly (mostly) supportive about my life choices (or actually in my case, lack of life choices) but as we all know, that isn’t the case for all teenagers. And it certainly isn’t the case with Paul, in ‘I love you too much’.
He’s growing up in a very swish area of Paris, (his local park is Jardim de Luxembourg, which having been there myself last summer I can confirm is not really a park at all, it’s more of a showcase for beautifully dressed kids and the most amazing lawns that you can’t walk on, let alone lie around on). Paul has a beautiful but disinterested mother and a stud of a father but they’re divorced, acrimoniously. Then his mother has another baby with her new boyfriend (sooo embarrassing) and they all go on holiday to a place where all the rich Parisians go on holiday and that is where Paul meets Scarlett and his life turns on its head.
Paul is very fat and hates it. This means that, because most teenagers are arseholes to each other, he doesn’t have any friends. Scarlett is the girl at school who all the boys want to have sex with, so he is astonished when she actually talks to him and more than that seems to enjoy his company.
What Paul doesn’t see, (because as well as being arseholes to each other, teenagers also think that the world revolves around their needs and wants) is that Scarlett is lonely. Like he is. This story explores loneliness and its many different forms – it’s about need, and the confusion of being half man, half boy, it’s about confusing friendship with love, and how devastating that can be and it’s about finding comfort in the most unlikely sources. Frankly, it’s fairly heartbreaking.
This poor fat kid, trying to figure out who he is and where he stands in the lives of the people who are meant to care about him. He just needs a bloody hug for god’s sake. Preferably from his daft, fragile, tired mother. I kind of hated her, but I also kind of understood. She was just doing what she could, and unfortunately, she got it wrong. As did his Dad, in a fairly monumental way.
But as we all know, there is no book that tells us how to do this life stuff, so until that definitive volume is written, we could all read stories like this and try and learn from them. Although I would recommend giving people more hugs in the meantime.
Out at the end of this month.