Thursday, March 12, 2009
Review: Belong to Me
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
Reasons for reading: I loved Loved Walked In; Seconds Challenge
Description: "Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to move to the suburbs with her husband. Her mettle is quickly tested by her impeccably dressed, overly judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt—the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she'd find in suburbia. With Lake, another recent arrival, Cornelia shares a love of literature and old movies—as she forms an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman and her perceptive, brilliant young son Dev."
First line: "My fall from suburban grace, or, more accurately, my failure to achieve the merest molehill of suburban grace from which to fall, began with a dinner party and a perfectly innocent, modestly clever, and only faintly quirky remark about Armand Assante."
My thoughts: It's rare that I like a sequel as much as the first book, but it's happened here. In fact, I enjoyed this book more than Love Walked In. An added bonus was that it caused me to have "You Belong to Me," a song I love, running through my head all week!
I didn't actually realize it was a sequel until I started reading, I thought it was just the de los Santos' second book. I think I enjoyed this one more because Love Walked In had a fair bit of movie-ness about it (not that that was bad and it was rather appropriate given Cornelia's love of old movies) and it ended like a movie, with Teo and Cornelia falling in love. This book shows what happens after the happy ending - they're still happy, but life has thrown them some curveballs, both good and bad. And while the book definitely has some situations that wouldn't be out of place in a soap opera, it didn't feel soapy.
I really liked that the characters grew and changed, particularly Piper. I really enjoyed reading things from Cornelia's point of view again - she's so linguistically and just generally quirky. She's caring and smart, but far from perfect. And I like that she's really short, like me! Teo is dreamy, Dev is a teen boy you'd like to get to know, and Clare has grown up well - her precociousness suits her better as a teen than it did at 11.
De los Santos does an excellent job of portraying emotions - the book is loaded with joy, sorrow, anger, pain, and lots of love - love for children, friends, family, spouses and a sweet dose of first love. Two of the scenes that stuck with me are a lovely moment between a father and his newborn baby and the epilogue, where family and friends gather to celebrate a child's christening. I hope that's something I'll experience one day - everyone who belongs to me coming together to experience such happiness. I loved how she expressed the concept of belonging to someone - not in a chattel sort of way and not just one's husband or children, but anyone we're lucky enough to have in our orbit who is truly special to us.
The verdict: This is a beautiful book.