A guilty conscience provides the currency for emotional blackmail, a fair price to pay according to Cooper Wyatt, who, if guilt were gold, would be the wealthiest man on the planet. Cooper is still paying the emotional toll for an accident that took the life of a little boy, an accident that happened when he was too wasted to drive and handed over his keys to his then lover Jordan Jensen, who was in no better shape. A little boy lost his life that day, and in the aftermath, Cooper Wyatt lost his soul to the demons of shame.
Jordan went to prison, Cooper went to rehab, and now Cooper’s sober and running from those demons, the still small voices of blame that have gnawed away at him ever since. Cooper’s life reads like a tragedy in many ways: at one time, drugs and alcohol informed his self-destructive choices and brought a quick and decisive end to his time at the Julliard School, derailing a once promising career; now that he’s sober, the memories of the drug and alcohol abuse inform his choices of self-denial, namely the right to settle down and to find some sort of peace. Cooper’s life is spare and has been whittled down to his bike, his violin, and whatever pieces of his existence will fit into a duffle bag.
Three years of using his conscience as a compass was three years of directionless wandering, until Cooper rolled into the sleepy, seaside town of Santo Ignacio, happened upon a bar called Nacho’s, and met his future in the form of the beautiful Shawn Fielding, a man whose deafness is not a handicap to his ability to hear the sounds of Cooper’s pain exhaling from every part of himself.
St. Nacho’s is a story of running away, first from the past, then from the future. It’s a story of running toward something you didn’t know you could have, then turning away and running toward someone you feel you owe, regardless of it meaning you’re running away from the someone who could finally set you free. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions, but also about allowing yourself to forgive and realizing that, at some point, redemption can’t happen until you stop the self-flagellation long enough to let it set you free.
As the saying goes, “you can’t go home again,” and in Cooper’s case it’s true because home means living in a past with Jordan that will keep them both from moving on, and will keep Cooper from Shawn and the future they’re meant to share. But it’s also true that home isn’t a someplace but a someone, and wherever that someone is, is the place you’ll find your peace, and it’s the truth that is the light to welcome you there. It’s about hearing not with your ears but with your heart, and not speaking with your voice but with your Self, allowing your body language to cry out for what your very being needs but can’t say with words.
Z.A. Maxfield wrote the hell out of this book, which isn’t particularly eloquent but is true nonetheless. When an author can make me feel the agony of a man’s conviction to do what’s right as opposed to what’s easy, all at the cost of his own happiness as well as my own anxiety, I think that author has done the job of putting a small part of herself into the writing, which, for me, elevated St. Nacho’s to my list of all-time favorite reads.
Buy St. Nacho’s HERE.