Efrat Reviews: Hydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw

The synopsis: 

How does a woman get over her one great love? With whitewater rafting, bluegrass, and a touch of revenge…

Kaye is an extreme sports addict with a kind heart and an axe to grind with her childhood sweetheart and ex-husband, renowned writer Samuel Caulfield Cabral. While Samuel enjoys a celebrity life in New York, Kaye remains in their hometown of Lyons, Colorado, running her PR agency and chatting daily with Samuel’s family, the beloved Cabrals—first-generation Mexican-Americans who have embraced Kaye as their own.

But when Samuel returns home for his sister’s wedding with a new love interest, stunning editor Caroline Ortega, the gloves are stripped off. Kaye is determined to unearth the reasons behind the death of their marriage and why two people who lived to love each other were driven apart, all leading to startling revelations about Samuel, about life…and about herself.

Efrat’s review: 

I’ve often wondered what leads people to pursue extreme sports – you know, the stuff that a little mistake can cost you your life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of adrenaline rush in the past, but to actively do this stuff on a consistent basis – that must compensate for something – no?

In any case, extreme sports are the backdrop for the brilliant and moving novel “Hydraulic Level 5” by Sarah Latchaw.

It tells the story of Kaye, an extreme sports addict, who is faced with meeting her childhood sweetheart and ex-husband – the wildly successful author Samuel Caulfield Cabral, after 7 years of separation. Their long and loving relationship was surprisingly and abruptly cut short, leaving Kaye at a loss of the reasons to their separation and its triggers.

Samuel’s return to her hometown of Lyons, Colorado for his sister’s wedding, while accompanied by an attractive and successful new love interest, his editor Caroline Ortega, sets both Kaye and Samuel on a journey to reveal the secrets of their past and present – and to unveil the mysteries behind their unexpected separation.

I can’t even begin to describe how well written, complex and intriguing this book is.

So, let me start off with allocating 5 shiny stars to Sarah Latchaw for her debut novel.

Now, here’s why –

First, Sarah Latchaw describes a beautiful love; one that is meant to be and grows over time – a fairytale, almost – but was painfully cut short. And that pain is brilliantly depicted in both Kaye’s and Samuel’s characters. As a reader, you feel the multiple facets of pain the characters go through – the pain of loss, the pain of tragedy, and most of all – the pain of opening up wounds and healing them. You simply cannot avoid the emotion, and physically feel it – that’s how good Ms. Latchaw’s writing is – it sweeps you in with the story like a good white water rapid.

“You have no idea…it made me question everything, Dani, from our childhood, to our life in Boulder, to my own sex appeal. It was too painful, too embarrassing, too frightening, and I didn’t want to share it.”Latchaw, Sarah (2013-09-01). Hydraulic Level Five (Kindle Locations 2991-2993). Omnific Publishing. Kindle Edition.”

Please just don’t forget to stock up on extra Kleenex boxes because you’ll likely need them…

Second, the Mexican/Latino heritage is also an important backdrop to Kaye and Samuel’s relationship. Throughout the book, you get an inside view to the customs, food, language and behavior of Mexican descendants living in the US. As an immigrant myself, I can appreciate the importance of keeping a certain legacy in a foreign place – speaking the language, inter-marriage with one another etc. – all important things to preserve your ancestry. It’s very hard to do in a non-native culture and requires hard work, so I’m glad Ms. Latchaw added that dimension. The story perhaps could have gone without it, but I actually think this gave the book a lot more depth and things to think about.

The Mexican-Americans peppered their words with colorful Spanish interjections learned from their parents and neighborhood children. Then there were the songs we grew up singing in car rides and before bedtime. It was only logical that the vast amounts of time we spent in each other’s company gave rise to the oddest, mish-mashed cultural stew—music playlists included.Latchaw, Sarah (2013-09-01). Hydraulic Level Five (Kindle Locations 3688-3691). Omnific Publishing. Kindle Edition.

His father wants him to find a deeper appreciation for his Mexican heritage, and perhaps it will give him aspirations beyond baseball and storytelling.Latchaw, Sarah (2013-09-01). Hydraulic Level Five (Kindle Locations 3907-3908). Omnific Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Third, Kaye and Samuel’s love is purely platonic in this novel, and the little hints of physical attraction are really gestures of love, not lustful acts. The concept of friendship is discussed throughout the novel and examines the importance of it for any type of relationship, and especially a long-lasting one. At first, Samuel suggests friendship to Kaye as an act of making peace and of not forgetting the past, but later it really turns out to be the new foundation of Samuel and Kaye’s alliance – it’s their way of remedying the wounds that time has not healed.

When you think of it, friendship is really the foundation for any type of solid alliance  – be it a business/working connection, a social companion and definitely – a romantic relationship. Ask any couple that is married a few decades and they will tell you they married their best friend. If that’s not convincing, then what is?

Kaye and Samuel also, eventually, exchange their previous wedding vows with vows of friendship, as a life lesson learned.

When we exchanged them, I thought our vows would be easy to keep. We’d been childhood sweethearts, after all. Piece of cake. But now, seeing the solemn set of my two friends’ faces, it hit me that we hadn’t kept a single one of them.Latchaw, Sarah (2013-09-01). Hydraulic Level Five (Kindle Locations 5409-5411). Omnific Publishing. Kindle Edition.

“Hydraulic Level 5” is a fascinating read that is very well executed. Throughout its reading, you cry, laugh, think and feel – what more can you ask for?

I am looking forward to the sequel to this novel, however in all honesty; it’s quite good on its own.

I also think that Sarah Latchaw is a very talented author, so I expect to see more great things from her in the future. This was a pretty impressive first start, so it can only go up from there. Keep an eye out for her; I certainly will 

And going back to my opening line about extreme sports… Kaye answers this very question – does the pursuit of extreme sports compensate for something. But I won’t provide spoilers… Tamie won’t let me 😉

4 thoughts on “Efrat Reviews: Hydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw

  1. Lariza says:

    Can’t wait to read this!!!


  2. my1edward says:

    It sounds like HL5 has changed quite a bit from its fic incarnation, but it was beautifully written, entirely engrossing and very moving then, so I can only imagine the book is wonderful and I can’t wait to read it. I agree that Sarah is a brilliant writer.


  3. Krissy says:

    I need to read this…soon! ♥


  4. jenlanebooks says:

    Loved your review. Can’t wait to read this–I love books that make me cry.


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