Friday, June 25, 2010
I have to make you laugh. OK, so you may remember me babbling and gushing amidst a Sunday Salon or two about the perfectness of Belong To Me on audio. I was closing in on the end today, so before my sweaty five mile walk, I wanted to be sure I had the latest Elizabeth George thriller, This Body of Death, loaded and ready to go in case I finished mid-journey. I deleted all but the last disc of Belong To Me as well, just to clean things up. The iPod was synched and I was ready to go. To my horror, I realized about 2.5 miles into my walk, that there were not 12 discs to this book, but 13, and had deleted THE ENDING!!!! So I started This Body of Death, but my heart wasn't into it. I was crushed. Luckily, I also had the printed version of Belong To Me at home, so I stormed in from my walk, smelling like a camel, grabbed the book, laid down on the floor right then and there, and finished it. The day was saved. This novel was THAT good.
The book starts out 2 1/2 years after the end of Love Walked In, with Cornelia, Tao and Clare. Boy did I miss those guys. Cornelia and Tao have moved to the burbs, and Cornelia is attempting to make some new friends, but failing miserably. Leading the charge in her misery is Piper, the neighborhood b*tch...perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect kids, and a derision for anything or anybody that doesn't conform to her perfect world. Cornelia does meet and make friends with Lake, a single mom with a 14-year-old son, Dev, who is just about as lovable and charming as Clare. In fact, when Clare comes to visit Cornelia and Tao over Thanksgiving, cupid strikes the two precocious teenagers, and a connection is made.
But obviously, that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is the issue with Dev's paternity, and his emotional and physical pursuit to unearth the truth. There is Piper's life, spent supporting her best friend as she battles cancer. There is Cornelia's quest to find a friend, and to have a baby. There are real-life, devastating issues in there. It is rare that an audio will bring tears to my eyes, but this one did.
The book is narrated in several different voices...Dev, Piper, and Cornelia of course. Santos has a special gift of bringing characters to life, making them so human, so raw, so flawed, so memorable, so endearing. You wish you had these people in your life. One unique twist to this story is Piper's perspective. In any other book, she would be the token antagonist, there to absorb our ire. But with Santos, we see behind the manicured exterior and learn to love her.
The narrator in this audio book is the same one that annoyed me at the beginning of Love Walked In. Only this time, I get it. I get Cornelia, I get the narrator, and I love it all. I wouldn't have another narrator.
I suppose Santos' novels would be considered "women's fiction", a genre I enjoy. But I almost feel that minimizes her gift. She is the proverbial cherry on top of the banana split, the extra 20% of cacao in your chocolate souffle, the decoder pen in your box of Lucky Charms. She just has that extra little something that takes a story from good to great, and makes it stand out above the rest. I won't be forgetting Love Walked In or Belong To Me for a very long time.
5 out of 5 stars