Cornelia, a died in the wool city girl, moves with her gorgeous, oncologist husband Teo to the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, her prejudices about suburban life become reality almost instantaneously. No sooner had the couple moved in to their new house that nosy, opinionated neighbors, led by Piper, try to ensure that Cornelia and Teo live up to neighborhood expectations. Cornelia was miserable until Lake, a recent transplant from California, moves into the area. Although Lake’s easy friendship becomes distant as the holidays near, her son Dev quickly becomes a frequent visitor at Cornelia and Teo’s house. Dev, who has grown up without a father or any extended family feels at home with them and another teenager close to them – Clare. Just as Cornelia’s life starts to improve, things shake up for Piper and Dev. Soon, all of their lives are impacted as they learn more about themselves and each other. After her move to the suburbs, Cornelia’s life will never be the same.
What made this novel so special to me were the voices of Cornelia, Piper and Dev. They were interesting and distinct individuals. As Cornelia was a first person narrator, I fell in love with her voice first. Her first encounters with Piper had me giggling, but I also quickly felt her pain as Lake started to pull away from her for no apparent reason. Dev is a refreshing adolescent male. He is both extremely smart and highly adaptable. He also wasn’t a flat, geeky character, either. He easily made friends in the right environment and I enjoyed his take on Clare as their relationship started to bloom. Despite the fact that I instantaneously fell into step with Cornelia and Dev, Piper was the most interesting character in the novel. Her journey from determining and living what was appropriate for all women and learning to be real and to follow her heart was deeply satisfying. Although toward the end of the novel, when Dev and Cornelia’s worlds are turned upside down, their combined introspection slowed the novel down for me, I admired and enjoyed each of the characters.
Marisa de los Santos’ writing is as fluid and charming as she was when I heard her speak at the National Book Festival this past September. She brings her characters to life and makes them feel real and whole. During her talk there, she mentioned that Belong to Me is the sequel to Love Walked In, but that they were both writtent to be stand alone novels. I haven’t read Love Walked In yet, but I look forward to finding out more about Cornelia and Clare’s relationship. Clare is such a wonderful charcter in Belong to Me. I want to know more about her and her family life. Although I won’t know for certain until I read Love Walked In, I think it will enhance Belong to Me. From what I’ve read by de los Santos, I believe the opposite will be true as well.
Belong to Me, as the title indicates, is about relationships – both biological and chosen. It illustrates so nicely the motto my parents used to have on their license plate frame: Love is a decision. Sometimes love is easy and full of warm emotion, but it is truly love when you decide to care for another person warts and all. It is also a good reminder that if you are not open to others, even when they don’t make a good first (or second or third) impression. If you shut down your heart, you may be missing out on what that person can add to your life. Belong to Me is both heartwarming and true, making it the perfect novel to read while relaxing on vacation or inside curled up on the couch on a rainy day.
Cathy from HarperCollins has graciously offered a copy of Belong to Me to giveaway to THREE of my readers. If you like Women’s Literature and reading about relationships, you will most definitely enjoy this novel. I will be running this giveaway until July 17th. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite quote about love or friendship. For an additional entry, be sure to Twitter about the contest or let your friends know by email. Be sure when tweeting to include @lithousewife so I can add your extra entry. When emailing about it, be sure to copy me at jennifer (at) literatehousewife (dot) com. Good luck!!!!
To buy this book, click here.