Amazing Couple: Sol La Coeur & D’Arcy Benoit from Plus One

Amazing Couple: Sol La Coeur & D’Arcy Benoit from Plus OnePlus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 373

Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge--a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays, who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol concocts a plan to kidnap her newborn niece--a Ray--in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. Sol's violation of the day/night curfew is already a serious crime, but when her kidnap attempt goes awry, she stumbles on a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population. Sol escapes the authorities with an unexpected ally: a Ray who gets in her way, a boy she might have hated if fate hadn't forced them on the run together--a boy the world now tells her she can't love.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day/night divide, Elizabeth Fama's Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

Who are Sol and D’Arcy

Sol is a Smudge, one of half the population assigned to live their lives at night in this dystopian version of our world. She is headstrong, belligerent, raw, impulsive, fiercely loyal, and willing to do anything to help those she loves. All she wants at the start of the story is for her terminally ill grandfather to hold his great-granddaughter before he dies. So she goes off on a half-cocked plan to steal her estranged brother’s baby from the hospital, never dreaming she’ll land in the middle of an elaborate plot to fix the world she lives in. All she wants to give her grandfather some joy. All she wants is to make the lives of those around her worthwhile.
D’Arcy is a Ray, one of half the population assigned to live their lives in the day. He has everything going for him — he is smart and talented, a Medical Apprentice on track to be one of the best doctors in the Ray community until he crosses paths with a Smudge who injured herself on purpose and finds himself responsible for her while her ill-conceived plans spiral out of control. He is wry and passionate and intelligent and beautifully layered. Like Sol, he cares deeply and entirely about the people he loves.

Why Do We Love Them?

Largely because of the snark. This love story plays on two tropes I love: rivals to lovers and anonymous penpals. Sol and D’Arcy  are thrown together in the most bizarre way. She injures herself on purpose to sneak into the hospital and kidnap her niece. He’s the doctor-in-training on call when she comes in who guesses her injuries are self-inflicted  and reports her. In the beginning, to Sol, he’s just the idiot Ray doctor getting in her way. To D’Arcy, she’s the irritating Plus One making his life a complicated mess. They butt heads constantly, but as they get caught up in more than either of them bargained for, they become the other’s only constant, and rivalry quickly becomes more as they come to know who the other truly is.
The growth of this relationship is really beautifully done. Even when they can’t stand each other, they understand each other, and Fama makes sure that the eventual romance has ground to build on that is more solid than Stockholm Syndrome. I love watching these two interact and try to protect each other and take on an unfair world together.

D’Arcy on Sol:

He held my jaw in his hands and pressed his lips on mine. He did it with such gentle authority that the only message I could possibly receive was “I’m going to wait for you.”
He settled his head in the cradle of his arms again and refused to answer. Then he said, “Here on earth, where it counts . . . you’re not unnoticed.”
“You admitted you were throwing your life away so that Poppu could hold Fluer just once, and it was like the floor of your apartment opened under me. You had the balls to condense the whole screwed-up world into this one, pure thing, this crazy act of love. Everything I was working for collapsed through that hole with me, and I went into a free hall. And then you kissed me on the prairie and I wanted it all.”

Sol on D’Arcy:

I wanted to see him — I needed to see him again — now that in a matter of seconds everything had changed, and nothing between us would ever be the same, at least for me. I needed to see his eyes, to see what he saw when he looked at me, and who he was now that I knew who he was. I needed to see him so badly, as if I’d never seen him before.
I was embarrassed at his unbridled pleasure, so I closed my lips into something more prim and shook my head, a little bewildered by how even a wordless interaction between us could carry so much meaning.
“I’m sorry,” I said, shaking my head. Sorry that I was a Smudge; sorry that I hadn’t though to say as much all those months and years our desk friendship grew, sorry that the person he believed was his friend back then was about as worthwhile to him and to society as a blister-pack sealing machine; sorry that I was on the cusp of ruining his life, and selfishly stealing hours with him beforehand. But deep inside, I was also sorry for me. Sorry that I had to add D’Arcy — kind, quick-thinking, organized, generous, rule-following, rule-exploding, sentimental D’Arcy — to the list of people I couldn’t bear to lose and yet somehow had to say goodbye to.

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