The Accidental Marriage
Date Published: October 7, 2014
Number of Pages: 219
Print Price: $16.57
eBook Price: $9.99
What is the definition of love? Of friendship? Of marriage? Or rather, what is the common denominator that all three must have to be a success?
The answer, if you read The Accidental Marriage, is self-sacrifice.
Scott and Megan are two best friends living in the San Francisco Bay area... and they are JUST friends. Scott is gay; Megan is lesbian, and both are in relationships. In Megan’s case, her partner wants to have a baby, or rather, wants Megan to have a baby. However, she is also reluctant to pay out enormous sums of money to achieve that goal. Scott, whose personal mantra boils down to, “You’re my friend, I’m happy to help in any way,” helps Megan achieve this objective, and things quickly begin to fall apart.
It becomes clear that neither Scott’s nor Megan’s respective partners understand self-sacrifice, except for being on the receiving end of it. In short order, just after Megan confirms that she is indeed pregnant, both Scott’s and Megan’s relationships end, which in both cases appears to be no great loss. In Megan’s case, however, it means trying to survive without insurance benefits or any kind of financial or emotional support. Scott, wanting to help, offers to marry Megan so that she will receive his medical benefits and the necessary help to get on her feet. Figuring that it’s just a marriage on paper and it doesn’t change anything between them, Megan agrees. It is apparent to what lengths Scott will go in order to help his friend.
Soon, however, Scott’s world crumbles around him, and he is forced to seek help back home (from where he escaped a painful past) in order to take care of Megan and the child they have together. In losing everything, Scott and Megan find all they need--the courage to go forward and build a new life amid the ashes of their old ones.
The Accidental Marriage does not address the Church’s teachings on same-sex relationships head on (in fact, it does not address much religious teachings at all), but much is demonstrated regarding charity and the meaning of sacrificial love. The whole concept of laying down one’s life for one’s friend becomes clear in a unique way: while most people automatically equate it with physically dying, Mr. Thomas demonstrates how it is possible to lose one’s life in the social and professional arena and how that can be even more tragic and devastating than physical death. Scott’s and Megan’s fragile worlds are, in a way, built on their perceived sexual identity. The author shows how easily that foundation can be undermined by the very people with whom they should be able to identify--people who should be their champions during difficulties, but who are more concerned with defending an identity than caring about the individuals who claim that same identity.
While the story, itself, is believable (I’ve heard stranger stories among co-workers, believe me!), the characters tend to be a bit flat and one- dimensional. Scott demonstrates growth, learning to live for someone other than himself and accepting the responsibilities that come with that, but Megan seems to be just drifting along (which is disappointing, as she is, in a way, the catalyst for the story.) In a way, Megan is the proto-typical “damsel in distress” who needs to be “rescued.” All of her major life decisions, from being in her relationship with the over-bearing and emotionally abusive Diane to entering her “marriage” with Scott, appear to be made for her. Even though she agrees to these decisions, she does not actually take part in discerning them. If the author had drawn Megan a little more fully, perhaps delving into her back-story the way he did with Scott’s, it would have given credence to her decisions and the struggles she experienced in making them. Also, there is little description of the characters and there is a bit of stereotyping apparent.
The author does a masterful job, however, of addressing the issue of same-sex relationships. Indeed, describing any kind of romantic relationship in a work of fiction, without sinking to the level of including base and graphic descriptions of the physical intimacies of those relationships, is difficult. While the story does, out of necessity, include a couple of sex scenes, they are not written in a manner than incites lust; yet, they are also not written in a purely clinical manner. Scott’s and Megan’s feelings are explained, if not fully explored (in Megan’s case--Scott’s motivations for his actions are usually spelled out in detail), and kudos must be given for the author’s consideration of the abortion issue which, it is clearly demonstrated, would have made sense as a way of “fixing” all the problems the main characters encounter.
The Accidental Marriage is an engaging read and offers a great deal of food for thought in regard to relationships between friends, lovers, and families while delivering a heart-felt and compelling story about true love and its healing power.Publisher: Ignatius Press
Original Language: English
Subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter Catholic, Ink. - click here - receive book reviews and the column "The Catholic Imagination and You"
Be part of the Catholic Literary Revival.