Rows upon rows of leather seats grouped into trios stretched through the cabin. It was the biggest airplane I had been aboard. Come to think about it, it was the first. I took the seat listed on my boarding pass: 34C. Just how I like it.

No sooner had I sat down, an obese man pushed himself next to me. The man didn’t say a thing. Russians and Ukrainians piled on their carry-ons in the overhead compartments. They pushed each other throughout the aisles and yelled to one another with words that sounded like insipid insults of a middle-age crisis. Everybody seemed to be upset about something. I pulled out my phone and went over my messages. It was a compulsive habit I had developed over time. I read and reread messages all day long. Alexandra’s words, full of hope and adoration, wit and understanding, made me feel like a man. They also numbed me.

My backpack was stowed away. My white winter jacket was folded in the compartment above my head. The lenses were put away, and so was the camera bag. Everything was above my head and only then I began to understand. I looked over the obese man and out the window. I was restless, anxious. I had no fear of flying, nor of what the future held. I had no problems traveling to a faraway country, nor did I fear the uncertainty I had to face. I was unworried about the language, the cold, or even the bullets that very well could find me. The only thing I could not shake off was the feeling that by leaving Lillian, I was making a huge mistake.

My phone vibrated. There is no way in hell Alexandra made it already, I thought. She had to take a twelve-hour train ride to the capital city. There would be no reception as the train crossed the countryside from where she came—some little town, barely a little more than an intersection on a map. Alexandra was a Peace Corps volunteer who lived in the far east of Ukraine, near the border with Russia, and just about an hour away from the epicenter of the conflict in the Donbas region. I had met her online. Blame it on the internet. Instigations by pro-Russian separatists indicated the region where Alexandra lived could go next. She was also a writer and chatting with her had become my favorite pastime, a way to fill the void. A void that was easier to avoid, like an invisible loop that is just as easily overlooked. These were no times to travel. These were times of war, times to learn what we are made of, times to construct and build, and rebuild and fight for what we stand for. These were no times to flee. But… what if they were?

About the novel

This book is part one of a trilogy, a journey that takes our protagonist to encounter rogue militias, mafia lords, terrorists, drug dealers, saints, prostitutes, Buddhist monks, backpackers, and lovers from whom he learns the karmic lessons of his soul.

Flaws is a story of fuckups and mistakes and a chance to redeem oneself in self-discovery, a reason worth living, and reflection.

The path to enlightenment and the meaning of love is closer than you think.

Sometimes you lose yourself the right way.

What are people saying

Highlights of some of the reviews provided by advanced readers

“Cruel yet sensitive”


“A journey of self-discovery in the most unlikely of places”


“Is he selfish and reckless, or capable of unconditional love? Or both?”


“I need to know if she is his soul mate!”


“Five Stars”


“See inside Donetsk from Joaquin’s perspective”


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