I first read/reviewed Crossed Wires last fall, and it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2009. I remember debating at the time whether or not I should do a giveaway – I wanted more people to have a chance to read the book, but I also wanted to keep it for myself. In the end, I decided to keep it. Crossed Wires also has the distinction of being the very first book I accepted for review. The author herself kindly sent it to me. I still have that copy with her postcard inside.
With all the new-to-me books I’ve been reading lately, I’ve been in a bit of a nostalgic mood, wanting to revisit some old favorites. I sorted through all my cravings and in the end decided to reread Crossed Wires. I’m very glad I kept it last year! It was every bit as good this time around, perhaps even better, and I wanted to enumerate all the things that kept me loving the book.
(I’m not looking at my thoughts from last year before I write this up, so I apologize if I end up repeating myself.)
1. I love hearing about all the family dynamics. Of course there’s the triple-dose of single parenthood – of Mina raising her ten-year-old Sal who has never known her father; of Mina’s own mother having been a single mom, with two kids from two different fathers; and lastly of Peter’s widowhood, raising his nine-year-old twins. This book doesn’t make family and parenthood sound easy or even all the time a wonderful blessing, which makes me so happy. Sometimes, parenthood isn’t a joy! I know there are some people who enjoy it 100% of the time (mostly in retrospect once their kids have moved out, I expect), but I’m a more typical mom who definitely needs some time away from kids! I can’t imagine doing it all single-handedly! I liked the realistic look at family and parenthood here.
2. Then there’s the way the book dives into several issues without ever making them feel forced or heavyhanded. The twins have several friends who live in an Irish traveler camp on the edge of town, who are later bullied out of town. Peter’s neighbors are an elderly gay couple with several very unusual dimensions to their relationship. There’s also a lot of discussion of teen pregnancy and the responsibilities that come with parenthood. All these things are in the book, but naturally there and not pushed on didactically.
3. And of course, there is the romance, which I absolutely love. It isn’t a one-night-stand, jump-into-bed sort of romance. In fact, it can hardly be called a romance book, with how slow it goes and how ambiguous the relationship between Mina and Peter is. But I love that. I love how realistic that is, relationships building out of friendship over a longer period of time. And I love how the two really get to know each other through phone calls. That last part is pure nostalgia on my part, since my husband and I met through a mutual friend over email and spent two months getting to know each other by letters and phone calls before we ever met in person.
In short, I enjoyed this reread so much! Absolutely loved it. I wish I could recommend this book to everyone (and tell them to please, please, please ignore the silly cover which doesn’t at all represent the content inside!).
Note: I have now read my thoughts from last year and apparently I had taken a bit of an issue with some abrupt changes from one paragraph to the next. During this read, there was only once that a section end felt abrupt and jarred me. Perhaps I was more prepared for the flow this time? It’s definitely a very British book, with lots of Britishisms in the language that I had to adjust myself to, but I enjoyed that. It felt very authentic.
Note: Review date is only an approximate of when this book was read/reviewed in 2010.