A review by constantine2020
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

emotional sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ ½
Genre: Contemporary Fiction + LGBTQ

What Belongs to You is a debut novel by Garth Greenwell. The author delves into the concepts of yearning, identity, isolation, and the complexity of human connection during the course of the book, which is structured in three parts.

The nameless American narrator, a young English teacher who is now residing in Sofia, Bulgaria, is presented to the reader in the opening portion of the story. He meets Mitko, a young hustler from Bulgaria, and the two of them have a relationship that is both confusing and emotional. Although the narrator pays Mitko for sexual sessions, the nature of their relationship extends well beyond that of a simple business transaction. The main character's feelings and vulnerabilities are brought into the open as the two men become more intertwined, and he starts to question his own ambitions and intentions as a result of this.

The second part of the book is more about the narrator's background, exploring topics such as his childhood, his troubled connection with his family, and his prior encounters with feelings of shame and desire. These recollections illuminate his current state of emotional and sexual yearning by providing context and background information.

After an extended period, the narrator examines his past interactions with Mitko in the last part of the story. Mitko's condition has become even more precarious, and the pair's reuniting is laden with uncertainty and stress. The power dynamics and intricacies of their connection are explored throughout the story.

I believe that the author has done an excellent job both with the story and the writing, especially considering that this is their first work. He provided the readers with a huge opportunity to explore the narrator's mind in great depth in order to gain an understanding of the narrator's mental state and his motivations. The narrative itself touches on several significant topics, like love, loneliness, and coming into one's own. On the other hand, having completed it has left me with a feeling of sorrow. It has a mood that one may describe as being quite melancholy. Therefore, you need to be in the appropriate frame of mind when reading it.