Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Review: Belong To Me, by Marisa de los Santos

Last night I did something I haven't done in a long, long time - I stayed up until 1am reading because I couldn't put the book down!!!! OK, so maybe it also had something to do with the small amount of Mountain Dew I drank, but still. I promise, tomorrow I will get back to the usual moaning about my daily life, but in the meantime, I have one more review.

The novel I was glued to is called 'Belong To Me', by Marisa de los Santos. If any of you have read Tom Perotta's 'Little Children', this has somewhat of a similar feel in that there are a few different plot lines going on with a group of neighbors that intermingle into a single glob by the end, but (thankfully) minus the pedophile. The main-est main character is named Cornelia, who is a married woman who has left NYC with her husband looking for suburban bliss. She ends up in a stepford-esque neighborhood, which is ruled by catty queen bee Piper, whose life is of course not at all as perfect as she broadcasts, befriends an oddly secretive waitress named Lake and her genius son, Dev, who have also just moved to the area after Dev is tormented at his old school, and tries to integrate into the vapidly complex neighborhood social scene. The story is told using the alternating-chapter method, rotating between the three women and Dev (this method seems to be becoming more and more popular recently). The women's chapters were the best; Dev's story for the larger part I could have lived without, since while his existence is important to the story, his actual daily experiences are not quite so much. The novel stumbled a bit towards the end, which seemed both rushed and a little too convenient, but the rest of the novel made it so worth the read. The characters themselves were honest creations, without the typical contrived personality disorders/quirks, and as their lives intertwined, the relationships they forged seemed completely natural and like those anyone else could have. I think that was the most endearing part of the book, the fact that the bulk of this tale could be taking place next door. All of the characters, despite their flaws, were also likable, and each grew and was changed by events that transpired.