Monday, May 24, 2010

Belong to Me - Marisa de los Santos

belong to me
marisa de los santos
c. 2008
388 pages
completed 5/23/2010

read for: before i die challenge

*may contain spoilers*

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.

Belong to Me follows the story of three completely different individuals, Cornelia, Piper, and Dev. Cornelia is newly moved to the suburbs with her husband, but is an outcast due to her city ways. Piper, the queen bee of the suburban ladies, is dealing with her best friend's cancer and growing problems within her marriage. And Dev has just been dragged across the country by his mother, skipped two grades, and is beginning to question the whereabouts of his absent father. All three cross paths in a small suburb in Philadelphia, and while there may be nothing to initially bond them together their lives soon begin to intertwine.

I keep getting books that I put on my TBR list years ago and cannot for the life of me remember what would have induced me to want to read them. This book is no exception. I don't read a lot of "women's fiction" or anything set in a contemporary America. And (just like my last review, I might be a little bit crass here) I'm really not into "cancer books." Cancer really sucks, I know, but I don't want to read a whole book about how much it sucks. So I was extremely wary going in and was convinced that this book was going to be consumed by its cancer plot. Thankfully it was not. Yes, Piper's best friend Elizabeth had cancer, but her's was not the story being told. Instead Elizabeth's problems were just another part of Piper's life.

Each chapter in this book is told from the point of view of one of the three main characters. Cornelia is the only one who actually narrates which I thought was a little odd, but the other two are just as insightful into their respective characters. I was really surprised by how much I liked this book. It was funny and heartfelt, and I really enjoyed most of the characters. I never could quite get behind Lake. I was pretty put off by her even before the secret came out. I absolutely LOVED her son Dev, however. It was the third chapter when he was introduced, and it was this chapter where I began to be sure that I would enjoy this book. Really, I think it was just Dev's mention of Green Day. How could I not like a book where the main kid is introduced listening to Green Day as he is dragged across the country?

To be honest, I was least interested in Piper's storyline. I'm torn though because, while I could have done without her story, I loved HER. She starts out as just this horrible person that I would love to hate, but ended up being pretty okay. But her inner monologue was just hysterical, thinking about how short people try too hard or how she likened dealing with a friend who'd joined the world of runners with living with a friend who'd joined a cult or gained a recreational drug habit. Probably her best rant was against all things New Age "a heading under which she corralled crystals, chiropractors, ESP, yoga, Dr. Andrew Weil/Deepak Chopra, aromatic candles - excepting cinnamon and vanilla holiday candles - echinacea, singer/songwriter music, and the entire country of India." She kind of reminded me of myself in some ways. Not the way she acted or her specific likes and dislikes, but just the way her inner monologue sometimes went. I don't know...I don't think I can explain it. Anyway, surprisingly enough, I liked this book quite a bit.


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