Meet Me Tonight by Florian Parent is a heartfelt, peaceful, easy joy of a read that is set in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic in Northern California. I genuinely empathized with the passionate voice of the narrator and the fun-loving characters who are all weathering the first lock down together in Chapter one.
I love the protagonist, Lior, an educated and professional, ordinary gay man, who withdraws from daily life into a dream world, where everything is perfect, especially his love life. He's stuck smack dab in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs trying to figure out love and belonging. It is this extreme mental state of Lior’s that provides the substantial ingredient for this romantic comedy.
Parent adds some quirky and free-spirited friends and family with witty and snarky banter, and lots of Lior’s melty and glowy feelings, along with a near break up and a satisfying ending. As for the setting, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, its suburbs, markets and waterfront during Lior’s dream dates. The timeline runs from 2020 - 2023. At times, this story reminded me of James Thurber’s Walter Mitty and what might have happened if Mitty joined the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The book has some tasteful and steamy sex scenes and for only that reason, I would recommend the book for mature readers. There were times when I would like to have seen more dialogue and showing instead of telling, but it seems this is written with a style that’s good for film. Lovers of rom-com, sit-com and gay literature will love Meet Me Tonight.
I got tearful at times because we are still dealing with the uncertain future of life coming out of a pandemic. Like the narrator said in Chapter one, “This lockdown had made people appreciate the simple things, the bare necessities. A good meal with friends was like the holy grail.” On the flip side, Parent notes the silver lining, that the isolation has given many people time to think alone and create instead of produce. He goes on further to mention how the world of business changed virtually overnight.
As for the theme of Meet Me Tonight, it’s simple. Follow your dreams. They really can come true. Even with the future uncertain, take the time to love and be loved. After all, “love is like happiness”. (Parent p. 44) Go ahead, self-actualize and create a fulfilling life that nurtures the good in you. ☮