For me reading a short story can be a bit like maneuvering a field of landmines. If you're lucky each step takes you closer to a happy and successful ending but one misstep and things go sideways leaving you feeling like you don't quite know what happened and you've missed something important. While 'The Layover' is less than 100 pages long it packs all the emotional depth and intensity of a story that could have been much longer but didn't need to be.
Ondro Smrek left Slovakia eight years ago in search of a new life. Now after 8 years of trying to outrun his demons he's decided it's time to go home and face them.
Jamie's returning to Edinburgh from a convention.
Both men suddenly find themselves stranded in Basel, Switzerland when their connecting flight is cancelled due to a snowstorm. Brought together by circumstances the two men find themselves having to spend more time together than either had anticipated.
I found myself liking both of these characters quite a lot especially Ondro. While he seemed very cold and even distant, we're also shown his struggles and his pain not in an overly dramatic way but a very human and heartfelt way. In spite of what was a very clear attitude of indifference at times it was also very clear that Ondro was a kind, caring and essentially decent person. Through his thoughts we are also shown a man who struggles with his own insecurities and personal demons.
Jamie is a more open and friendly personality but he's also young and he's been hurt before and while part of him wants to take a chance another part of him is afraid of having his heart broken again but the more time he spends with Ondro the more he comes to believe that Ondro may just be the one person his heart is safe with.
There comes a point in the story when Ondro does return to his hometown and as heartbreaking as that visit was, for Ondro it also became the affirmation that he needed that the choice he made when he left Basel, Switzerland was the right choice for him... the choice that would truly take him home.
Anyone who's ever been in a relationship will tell you that it takes two and just like in real life, here in the end it took both men making a leap of faith to bring them together so they could make the home they'd both been searching for.
An ARC of 'The Layover' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.