Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Love Walked In

I liked this book. I really did. But it's not going to sound like it.

Loved Walked In was recommended to me by Becky K., a blogger whose taste in books I take seriously. Once I began reading, I couldn't put the book down because the writing is intimate - very conversational - so you feel like you're reading a lengthy, but funny and interesting, personal letter from your best friend. I admit that I was disappointed with de la Santos's too frequent and flippant use of the F bomb because the other language she uses is so enjoyable. She's a poet, after all, and can string together some really pretty words. I suppose her defense is that it went with Cornelia's conversational tone, and, like many people nowadays, Cornelia casually peppers her everyday language with vulgarities, but I felt like it took away from a book that was on track to be great.

If the unnecessary language was strike one, then the overly tidy ending was strike two. Love Walked In begins when Cornelia Brown, a pretty, 85 pound 31 year-old woman obsessed with old-style Hollywood romances and working in a Philadelphia coffee shop, meets Martin Grace, a Cary Grant look alike who changes her life forever after he walks into her cafe. Cornelia's story, told in a funny parenthetical filled first person narrative, alternates with eleven year-old Clare Hobb's, who describes her increasingly desperate situation as her mother succumbs to manic depression in a much more direct third person (I mention the different voices because the change really is noticeable and, at first, a little disconcerting). Cornelia and Clare cross paths halfway through the book.

It doesn't feel predictable until it is. There were so many plot twists throughout the first two-thirds of the story, things not going the way you'd expect them to, that its tied-up-in-a-pretty-bow ending didn't feel right. It's a good ending in that everyone's happy and everyone wins (at least the characters whose relevance still matters by the end) , but happily ever after isn't always the best way to end a story.

I AM glad I read it. It's charming and well written, interesting and funny. The criticism comes from it not being as great as it could have been.

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