Belong to Me

De los Santos’s Belong to Me is definitely in the Chick Lit category for me, but its still a great read. I think part of what makes it Chick Lit are some common themes that can be found: affable main character, female driven drama (strong friendship, relationship problems, pregnancy, etc.), charming significant other or love interest, and most importantly everything working out in the end. None of these traits necessarily make for a bad read, in fact, just the opposite can be true.

“Belong to Me” is the story of Cornelia Brown and her move from her hip urban life to suburban yoga mommy-hood. Of course Cornelia is charming and wears down the most hard of critics, her neighbor and self proclaimed queen bee Piper. De los Santos has several narrators to break up the perfect life of Cornelia (which we all know won’t turn out to be as perfect). We get to hear from Piper as she deals with her best friends cancer and from a wonderfully refreshing brilliant teenager, Dev.

All the stories are interesting and they are nicely intertwined, so no emotion overrides the story. It was an enjoyable glimpse into these characters lives and a light easy read.

Read March 2013

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The White Mary

Kira Salak’s The White Mary is a story of a 30-something journalist Marika who travels the world for her writing. Along the way we are introduced to many of her co-workers or people who’ve helped her land the story or picture.

Marika has much acclaim thrown her way at a very young age for getting the story no matter the danger. She travels to war torn countries, has been shot, attacked, tortured before finally allowing her life to slow down. But when she does, she doesn’t know what to do.

Having never met Robert Lewis, the renowned war journalist and writer, she is inspired by his life and when she learns of his death she vows to write the story of his life. She obsesses over Robert Lewis’s life and when the possibility that he’s alive presents itself, she races to Papua New Guinea to find his trail. Or is it a white missionary’s trail?

Throughout Salak explores the remoteness of Papua New Guinea and war torn countries including the atrocities that are endured by the war reporters. Her writing on Papua New Guinea respects the different tribes that Marika encounters and presents characters that are honest people, not just caricatures.

This was a wonderful story about a woman who lives life on the edge and has to travel to the most remote place possible to truly find herself. Salak brings the reader to very different places and allows her characters to fully live in each locale. Great story!

Read March 2013

The Marriage Plot

Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot, is an interesting mix of literature, religion, & biology. The story begins with the deconstruction of classic literature (in college class) and college idealism and then deconstructs the collegial relationships of the 3 main characters. Eugenides strips their relationships down to their raw components and examines how the different dynamics work. He examines how the fundamentals of these relationships cannot survive a change. Ultimately, it’s up to each of the characters to find their own peace. Eugenides tells the brutal truth of difficult relationships & how mental illness can affect everyone.

I liked that Eugenides showed a different side of mental illness and how it can take a toll on a new relationship. It also shows how expectations are forced to change due to the effects of the condition. The novel takes place in the early 80’s. It feels intentional so the stigma of the mental health condition and treatments options don’t have the current political drama attached.

I thought it interesting how the story is structured. The first half of the story is only told from 2 characters and it isn’t until mid-novel that the character undergoing the manic-depressive spikes tells his story. I liked seeing a character from the outside and then getting in his head. It helped emphasize how we often see those suffering from mental health conditions without knowing or understanding what they’re going through.

My favorite part of the novel was when the characters discuss the ridiculousness of having an English degree just because they love to read and write. Felt a little personal, but I liked it!

I really liked this book. It felt real, with all the beauty and ugliness in it.

Read March 2013