Review: Belong to Me

Thank you Bookclub Girl for sending me a copy of Belong to Me. This is my first book in the book challenge I am participating in this fall.

A little bit Marisa de los Santos background: The child of a general surgeon hailing from Cebu City, Philippines and a nurse hailing from Westminster, Maryland, Marisa de los Santos grew up in Baltimore and Northern Virginia. She was a happy if somewhat neurotic kid, and had a little sister, Kristina, whom she both antagonized and adored, usually at the same time.
Enamored of Louisa May Alcott, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, and Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, Marisa read while skating, turning cartwheels, descending stairs, and/or bathing, sometimes with disastrous results.

Marisa found early success with the publication of her poetry collection, From The Bones Out. However, her son Charles soon arrived. Along with being handsome and brilliant, Charles screamed more than any baby on the planet. Three years later, Charles’s sister Annabel, also lovely and brilliant, also a maniac, made the scene. Their caterwauling, combined with Marisa’s distractingly large love for them, made mustering the concentration necessary for writing poetry difficult, so she produced less and less. That’s her story, anyway. (When in doubt, blame the kids.)

Around this time, Marisa started hearing a voice in her head. While this was initially a little weird, the voice turned out to belong to a fictional character, Cornelia Brown. Cornelia kept talking until Marisa was compelled to write Love Walked In.

Charles and Annabel turned out to be great kids.

This is story of Cornelia, her husband and life in the suburbs. We first met Cornelia in Love Walked In; if you enjoyed this book you will surely enjoy Belong to Me. The novel is told in different voices, women who become important to Cornelia. As you turn the pages you feel like you are listening to a friend share stories with you. You will believe the characters in this book, the daily struggles with friends, looking forward in life, health, children, marriage etc…

The story was beautiful and complicated, and happy and sad. You care about the people in the story, they become your friends for the length of the book, you laugh and cry when they do. At the back of the book, Marisa gives the slightest hint of someday writing Clare and Dev's story.

After you finish reading this book, be sure to click to BookClub Girl’s site and listen to her discussion with the author. I enjoy reading along with Jennifer and then getting to listen to the discussion, the books always have more meaning and I always like a book even more after listening.

Type: Fiction, pages, 388 pages, Trade paperback

Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others we keep to protect those we love.

A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised no one more than herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to leave urban life behind and head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she and her beloved husband, Teo, have made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships in her new home. Cornelia's mettle is quickly tested by judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt. Perfectly manicured, impeccably dressed, and possessing impossible standards, Piper is the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she would find in suburbia. A saving grace soon appears in the form of Lake. Over a shared love of literature and old movies, Cornelia develops an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman who has also recently arrived in town, ostensibly to send her perceptive and brilliant son, Dev, to a school for the gifted.

Marisa de los Santos's literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between these three women. She deftly explores the life-altering roller coaster of emotions Piper faces as she cares for two households, her own and that of her cancer-stricken best friend, Elizabeth. Skillfully, de los Santos creates an enigmatic and beguiling character in Lake, who draws Cornelia closer even as she harbors a shocking secret. And from the first page until the exhilarating conclusion, de los Santos engages readers with Cornelia, who, while trying to adapt to her new surroundings, must remain true to herself. As their individual stories unfold, the women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal,love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined, and that ultimately teaches them what it means for one human being to belong to another.