Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Belong to Me - Marissa De Los Santos

Book: Belong to Me
Author: Marissa de los Santos
Version: Audiobook

This review does contain some pretty major spoilers. If you haven't read the book yet and don't want to read any spoilers, skip the review.

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.

Belong to Me, by Marissa De Los Santos, is a book that will break your heart and give you hope all at the same time.  Cornelia and her husband Teo move to the suburbs of Philly, where they meet many colorful and at times annoying characters including Piper, Lake, and Lake's son Dev.  The characters all become entwined with each other through a series of heartbreaking events and one major event that changes the lives of four of the characters in a major way.

Throughout the novel, Piper's best friend Elizabeth dies, and Piper falls in love with Tom - Elizabeth's husband.  This happens while Piper's own marriage is imploding because her husband isn't in love with her any more.  When Piper realizes she is in love with Tom, she wonders if that was Elizabeth's plan all along, because Elizabeth was always so okay with them spending so much time together while Elizabeth was dying.

In addition to the crazy relationship between Tom, Piper, and Elizabeth, there is also the weird, tense, wild relationship between Cornelia, Teo, Lake, and Dev.  Lake and Dev move across the country to the community where Cornelia and Teo live for reasons that are unknown to Dev.  He thinks it's because Lake wants him to go to a better school.  When Lake becomes friends with Cornelia, events of the past unfold, and we realize that Teo is actually Dev's dad - and that the only reason Lake became friends with Cornelia is because she's married to Teo.

Given all the weird and crazy things that happen in this novel, and the fact that there are multiple story lines to keep up with, you would think that following or liking this book would be tough! But, it's really not.  It's a fairly easy book to keep up with, though rather dramatic, as you can probably guess.  The author does an excellent job of weaving together the different story lines into a book that is absolutely wonderful, if a bit heartbreaking.

The characters in the story are all marvelous as well.  They are unique unto themselves with their own distinct personalities and attitudes.  I think that there is a lot of personal growth for many of the characters as well.  Dev, Cornelia, and Piper specifically each do a lot of soul searching and growing throughout the novel. 

Overall, if you are looking for a wonderful, well-written drama of a book, look no further than Belong to Me.

Star rating: ✰✰✰✰✰

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