Stanley Park
by Racine Hiet
Second Symphony

"I'm another one of those pieces that doesn't fit... not anywhere, it seems."

Stanley Park is the center of the book universe around which all the characters' lives revolve. Hiet does a magnificent job of building characters that are damaged and severely flawed, but also characters whom readers can easily root for. Many of the central figures in the author's novel are victims of their upbringing; however, each individual presses harder than ever to achieve their version of the American Dream.

From the get go, the audience is introduced to Ace Andrews, the thirteen-year-old child of the barbaric alcoholic and womanizer, Steggart Andrews. The encounter between father and son is particularly troublesome as there is no sort of warmth in the elder Andrews. Instead, he constantly derides Ace with phrases such as, "you're nothing," and "so you think you're a man." Ace becomes consumed by thoughts of eliminating his father and this obsession leaks into his other relationships as the book unfolds: His character shifts from a bullied, almost heroic figure to that of a cold-blooded killer who will do anything to get what he wants.

Where Ace Andrews represents the extinguished flame of hope, Markus Friedman is the everlasting torch, inspired by the phrase, "as long as you believe, its magic will surround you." Interestingly, the fate of the main characters is eerily intertwined in a love triangle that no one is aware of. Infidelity, deceit, secrets, and a desire for true love controls the characters' motives, but mostly, they are misfits trying to find that perfect fit, their niche in life. Perhaps this idea of finding one's way through life will resonate with readers the most; after all, the discovery of one's identity is the essence of being human.

In a nutshell, there are multiple storylines running concurrently throughout the novel. The story of Ace Andrews, the blossoming love story of Markus Friedman and Goldie Stein, and romance between Lily Winters and Hatter Monroe are the initial storylines for readers to follow. As the plot unravels, however, nothing is as it seems and mayhem erupts within these characters lives. In the end, these Stanley Park patrons are simply chasing for their happily ever after. As in real life, some get what they want; some don't.

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