I was very excited to read Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I read her first book, Love Walked In, a few months ago all in one day and loved it! See my review.
Unknown to me ahead of time (I really should rethink my ban against reading summaries and book jackets), Belong to Me actually contains the same main characters as Love Walked In. We meet up with Cornelia, Clare and Teo a few years after the end of the first book. They have moved to the suburbs from the city and are trying to fit in. Cornelia meets the 'Queen Bee' suburban mom, Piper, and does not pass the social 'tests' of suburbia and struggles to fit in. However, she does make friends with the waitress, Lake, at the local Italian restaurant.
Belong to Me, as in Love Walked In, is written from different points of view. There is Cornelia's story of trying to fit in with the suburban women, working to have a baby and defining herself. In other chapters, we witness Piper's struggle with a failing marriage at the same time that her best friend is dying from cancer. The third point of view in the book is of Dev, Lake's thirteen year old genius son, who has always been an object of classmate ridicule due to his brains and curiosity about how things work.
The fun part is seeing how these different characters interact with each other and the rest of their families. It's also the emotional part. I easily empathized with different aspects of all three main characters. I was drawn in to Cornelia's desire to fit in without being someone she's not. I wanted to take Piper's pain away as she deals with all the negativity. And I remembered how hard it was to be a teenager without all the extra issues Dev has and worried for him.
With Love Walked In, I was hooked and read it in a day, getting so emotional along with the characters in the story. In Belong to Me, I did not get the same amazing draw and emotion but that could have been expectation management and not the book. Even without the level of intensity I expected, I still thoroughly loved reading and caring about these characters. If I had read Belong to Me first, I believe it would be a top read for 2008, but since it was second, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Still one of the best books I've read so far this year and I highly recommend it to all.
If you've read Belong to Me or Love Walked In, let me know and I will link to your reviews. If you read either of these in the future, please let me know your thoughts. I'd love to discuss it further.
To read a Q&A session with author Marisa de los Santos, go to her website - it's quite interesting. You can also read the first chapter of Belong to Me there.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars