Title: Belong to Me
Author: Marisa de los Santos
Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge
First Sentence: "My fall from suburban grace, or, more accurately, my failure to achieve the merest molehill of suburban grace from which to fall, began with a dinner party and a perfectly innocent, modestly clever, and only fairly quirky remark about Armand Assante."
Summary (From book flap):
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.
My Two Cents:
I go pretty back-and-forth as to whether or not I liked this book. Sometimes, I think I liked it well enough to give a fully positive review. Other times, I think there only were a few pieces of the whole I liked. This book came at a somewhat difficult time for me personally, so there was a lot in here, especially regarding Cornelia, that I just would have preferred not to have to read about.
De los Santos' writing is solid, but it's nothing particularly special. She's straightforward enough that you don't have to figure out what she's trying to say, but she does possess enough wit that you can laugh out loud occasionally.
My favorite character was, without a doubt, Dev. I wasn't quite as alienated from my peers as he was, but I still identified a lot with him. I wanted everything to turn out well for him, and, thankfully, it did in the end. My one issue is (And this goes for a lot of authors) that writing him as a precocious, smart kid is almost a cop-out to avoid having to write anything "teenagerish." Sure, Dev's got some teen angst (Although, unless related to Clare, it's not typical teen angst) that is dealt with well, but he reads much more like an adult than a teen. Not a big deal.
I was never quite sure how I felt about Cornelia. For the supposedly central character, I was ambivalent toward her at best. She just didn't have that much life or spark to her. She was kind of boring. I don't know if that was my own personal life creeping into my reading of the things she deals with or not, but I just wasn't fond of her.
I know a lot of people have really liked this book and de los Santos' other works, but this just didn't stand out for me as anything spectacular.