Book review: Random Acts of Heroic Love

“even though we know we are mortal, we live as if we are immortal”

 

Two stories, hundreds of years apart. Leo is in South America, devastated, confused, and falling into a deep, dark hole. More than 70 years before, Moritz is struggling across Siberia drawn by a passion so deep it seems to keep his heart beating by will alone.

Random Acts of Heroic Love is possibly one of the most deeply moving books I have ever read. Danny Scheinmann takes love, tears it a part, and rebuilds it with a depth of understanding and complexity unlike anything I’ve read before. I found myself weeping at Mortiz’s desperation. Despairing for Leo and wondering how anyone can ever come back from the brink. Then just over half way, it all changes. The previous pages take on new meaning, and all the heart-ache has a new poignancy.

Throughout this book, we flit between the darkest moments in a person’s life to the wonderful highs that can come so soon after. We learn how to cope with loss, death, frustration, self-loathing, confusion at the universe, and everything in between. It might seem strange to place war-time suffering next to a travelling twenty-something, but Danny is able to do so with a great heart, and not an ounce of patronisation.

Modern-day wanderlust is curiously examined through Leo, where despite his incredible pain, we are still able to see the beauty and intrigue of exotic lands. A love so pure and fresh is depicted that you find yourself smiling down at the pages, chuckling at the anecdotes of mating ants, and thinking fondly of those you yourself hold dear. Random Acts of Heroic Love also provides an intricate depiction of the other side to World War One, the side away from the front line where men still fought their own personal battles of survival. With remarkable descriptions of the landscapes, people, and trials of a trek across Siberia, we follow Mortiz’s journey and uncover what might not be written in history books. His desire to return to his sweetheart pulls him to survive far more than the call of duty, and proves just what strength such devotion can provide.

When I need to grieve, I should read this book again. When I am grateful for love, I should read this book again. When I need to be reminded of the beauty of the universe, I should read this book again. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read this book.

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