Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: Belong to Me

Summary: 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.

Acclaimed bestselling author Marisa de los Santos's literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between three unforgettable women, deftly entangling her characters in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined.-- Harper

Probably the first thing that attracted me to BELONG TO ME by Marisa de los Santos was the cover artwork. I think it's just adorable with all the rain boots lined up! However, after I read the book's description, I knew I wanted to read this novel because it is just the type of book I seem to enjoy. You know what I mean? Good women's fiction with real characters.

My only hesitation (and it was a slight one) was that I hadn't read Ms. de los Santos' prior novel LOVE WALKED IN which features some of the same characters. I wasn't sure if that would affect my enjoyment of BELONG TO ME; but after reading this novel, I definitely think it stands alone. That's not to say that I'm not going to go back and read LOVE WALKED IN because I loved the characters in this novel and want to learn more about them.

I found the main character in this story, Cornelia, to be very interesting; and while I didn't have a whole lot in common with her, I found myself relating to her especially when she moved to the suburbs. I think a lot of women will sympathize with Cornelia and how she felt around Piper, the "perfect-little" mom and wife. As I read this novel, I began liking Cornelia more and more; and I loved that the author made her so complex and flawed. And while I'm not sure I agreed with her initial reactions to her husband near the end of the book, I absolutely could understand her feelings and anger towards him. I felt that the portrayal of Cornelia was very real.

I also really appreciated how Ms. de los Santos created the character of Piper -- she was just so interesting and at times funny. I probably should have disliked her and her shallowness; however, I found myself really liking her (eventually) and wanting her to find some sense of peace and happiness. I loved watching her discover things about herself and change for the better.

Actually, Cornelia and Piper weren't the only characters that I found interesting, Almost all of the characters in this book had something important to add to this story. As a reader, I think I learned something from each of them; and that's one of the things that I loved most about this book. I walked away from reading BELONG TO ME thinking about myself, my marriage, and my friendships. I love it when a book makes me think!

I liked the characters and the story, but I think I really appreciated the author's writing style. Ms. de los Santos' writing definitely brought this book to another level for me when compared with other contemporary women's fiction. BELONG TO ME was just so incredibly easy to read for me, and I was immediately drawn into the characters' lives. I thought the dialogue was extremely natural and Ms. de los Santos' descriptions were almost poetic. It is evident to me that Ms. de los Santos is a gifted writer. In fact, she is actually an award-winning poet with a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing.

I absolutely adored BELONG TO ME and will be recommending it to all of my friends. I also think this novel would make a fantastic book club selection because there are just so many wonderful characters to analyze and interesting themes to discuss. There is a ten question reading guide available in the back of the book which will help focus your discussion, but I truly believe that there is a great deal to talk about even without it.

Please stop by tomorrow because Ms. de los Santos will be stopping by with a wonderful guest post about writing this novel and how one very special character came to her! There also might be an added incentive to visit -- if you know what I mean!

14 comments:

BronzeWord said...

thank you for a great review.
Jo Ann Hernandez
http://authorslatino.com/wordpress
going to post it on twitter

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see the author has such a great writing style - I have Love Walked In in my TBR pile.

Beth F said...

I have had the audio of this book since it first came out. I too love the cover. I haven't listened to it because I thought I should track down Love Walked In first. You've convinced me that I can listen to this one on its own. Now, if I can only find the time to read and listen to everything!

Molly said...

I actually have both of the author's books in my TBR pile. My goal is to read them one right after the other. The only problem is....time.

Loved your review. I am learning that I truly love a book that is character driven with an engaging writing style. This one seems to fit the description perfectly.

softdrink said...

I think you'll really like Love Walked In, too. They do stand alone, but they are both great reads.

It's always been hard for me to articulate why I like both books so much, but I think you did a fantastic job in your review. I look forward to tomorrow's guest post!

nsmith2232 said...

Thank you for your great review. I've had Belong to Me on my bookshelf for a few months now and am really looking forward to reading it! I agree with you, the cover art is very appealing. This is my first "leave your comment", I'm a newbie to book blogging. No site, just love reading and discovered your blog through LitLovers which I have been looking at for about 6 months. Hope I did this right!!

Lauren said...

That books on my TBR pile - great review! I'll definitely move it up now!

Meghan said...

So glad you loved this one! I won it recently and after Love Walked In, have been really looking forward to it. Good to know this one is wonderful too. =)

Yvette Kelly said...

Sounds like a really great book.Will keep on checking for the interview post.See you soon!

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

I loved this too, definitely very smart women's fiction.

Gwendolyn B. said...

I enjoyed LOVE WALKED IN and I'm looking forward to this one. Nice review!

Karlie said...

I've been eyeing up this book because I am in love with the cover. Glad to see a great review.

S. Krishna said...

I love, love, love Marisa de los Santos' books. Great review!

Rebecca :) said...

I want to read this book, too. It is good to know I don't need to read the other book before hand, especially since I did not realize it featured the same characters! Good review.