Once again, Marisa de los Santos pulls off a fun and effortless book. This time, there are three stories that twist around each other. First is Cornelia, one of the main characters of the first book (Love Walked In), who has moved to the suburbs with her husband. There, she has to deal with very catty neighbors and a complete inability to fit into suburbia. Second, there’s the story of one of the catty neighbors, Piper, who is about as stereotyped a WASP bitch as one can be. (And it’s not the writing. Piper tries to be that way. She says so in the book.) Piper is struggling with the fact that her best friend, Elizabeth, is dying of cancer, and the perfect world Piper’s created for herself is equally dying. Third is the story of Lake and her son Dev, who recently moved to the same area under mysterious circumstances that Dev is struggling to figure out, and which his mom is thoroughly hiding from him.
While I just finished the book and therefore have had little time to reflect on it, my initial impressions are that I liked Love Walked In better than this one. I think there was a tad too much thrown into this one. Too many sideplots outside the main plots. It’s also more difficult weaving three main stories, especially when the outside two (Lake and Piper) don’t really have much to do with each other, just with Cornelia. The spider’s web is a lot more complicated here, and a couple times I had to go back and figure out what was going on. Also, I don’t really buy Piper’s character and character development. I don’t buy that Cornelia and Piper would ever become friends under any circumstances. There was just a touch too much unbelievable in the whole situation. Lastly, I missed Cornelia’s delightful indulgence in literature and old movies, which is present in this book, but far less so. Her personality seems muted, though perhaps that’s just because there are far fewer chapters devoted to her story.
Of course, there are good things, too. Most of the other characters were definitely believable. The end is messy and realistic, without any real resolution (which I love). The revelations were shocking and took me by surprise. The death scenes around Elizabeth are outstanding, and even though I hated Piper, I actually felt sorry for her for a brief moment. The love story between Dev and Clare (the second storyline narrator from Love Walked In) is brilliantly done, too.
Maybe I liked this book less because I can’t stand the suburb snobbery throughout it. I don’t like that sort of thing in real life, so reading about it was near torture. Thankfully, I could tell that the author didn’t particular care for it either, and most of the characters were repulsed by it, too. But still, that was the setting, and the setting tainted the book a bit. Made it just slightly distasteful.
But overall, I liked it and thought it was well written. I look forward to Marisa de los Santos’s next book, whatever it may be.
And of course, I should mention, the coolest thing about the book is that my middle son, Ambrose, owns that pair of blue boots on the cover. Seriously. Exactly the same kind, with the red stripes and soles and the little arches on the top. All three of my kids stuff their feet into those boots during various games, and all three of them have, individually, noticed the cover of this book and gotten excited by the fact that Ambrose’s boots are on there. Like, hopping up and down excited. 🙂