Monday, October 19, 2009

Love Walked In - Marisa de los Santos

Summary: "My life--my real life--started when man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and yes, I know how that sounds."

When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. Charming and debonair, the spitting image of Cary Grant, Martin sweeps Cornelia off her feet, but, as it turns out, Martin Grace is more the harbinger of change than the change itself...

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. Taking inspiration from famous orphans (Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Marry Lennox, and even Harry Potter) Clare musters the courage to seek out her estranged father. When the two of them show up at Cornelia's cafe, Cornelia and Clare form a bond as unlikely as it is deep. Together, the face difficult choices and discover that knowing what you love and why is as real as life gets.

My review: This book made me feel like I had slipped into my favorite pajamas, fuzzy socks, and knock-off Uggs--warm, comfortable, and thoroughly relaxed. While it didn’t hit me instantly, the further that I read into Love Walked In, the more I sunk down in to the nice comfy feeling of a leisurely, but well-paced, read with elegant detail.

Despite the first lines of the summary, this book is as far as you can get from some cheesy, chick lit love story. It is oh so much more than that. Cornelia is a fascinating character with a witty, self-deprecating demeanor and is the perfect voice to partially narrate this story. When the Perfect Man walks into her life, Cornelia is more than a little dismayed when something feels off. Enter Clare, a young girl going through a very difficult time in her life. Clare is watching her mother fall apart for no apparent reason. Obviously terrifying for Clare –she has to try to keep the secret from the outside world. Eventually her mother completely snaps and Clare is left abandoned broken. Miraculously, Cornelia is there to scoop up the pieces and try with all her heart to put Clare back together. Clare’s voice adds an entirely new dimension to the story as the written perspective of a young, yet insightful, child.

In addition to the two narrators, this book is filled with quirky, flawed and lovable (or not so) characters. Martin, who would be undeniably wonderful if he wasn’t keeping a secret. Linny, the eccentric best friend with a penchant for cowboys. Teo, the handsome brother-in-law who Clare is crushing on. Viviana, the mother, spiraling out of control. Each of these characters is essential to the story, very human and well-written. I was also very impressed with the author’s ability to make the relationships in this book seemed complex and genuinely believable. All of them.

Love Walked In explores the spectrum of human emotion – from attraction to unconditional love, to fear, confusion, and grief, friendship, forgiveness, and back again. And the end. The ending is enchanting , delicious, heart-pounding and sublime. I don’ t know if it will feel that way to everyone, but I truly believe that it couldn’t have ended any other way for the characters and the integrity of the story.

My rating: 4.25 Stars – For a more sensitive reader, there were some bursts of profanity throughout the book that I didn’t particularly care for but tolerated because the rest of the book was so darn good. It wasn't so much the moments that gave this book a high rating, but the journey through all of them to the conclusion. That was beautiful.

Sum it up: A beautiful tale about the importance of love and responsibility, and the difficult decisions and sacrifices we make for those we truly love.


4 comments:

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

This has been sitting on my shelf for over a year since I bought it at a used book store. Maybe I need to dust it off.

MindySue said...

I really enjoyed it, though I wasn't sure at first. I'm nervous for your thoughts on the book though. While it seems we can agree on what I don't like, I'm not sure we can agree on what I do (ie The Help, Thirteenth Tale, etc).

If you say you hated Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn I'm afraid we can no longer be web-friends.
;)

debilyn said...

I can't tell you how many times I've thought about picking up this book. Not really sure why I haven't yet.

Great review... you've certainly made me want to add it to my TBR list!

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

Ella Minnow Pea was WAY OVER MY HEAD!! :) It was quirky and cute -- but it was one of those books that I needed to discuss with someone!

I liked The Thirteenth Tale -- didn't LOVE it -- but it was a perfect read for October.

Yeah, The Help -- just didn't sit right with me. It was beautifully written, but I couldn't get over a white woman trying to portray black servants in the '60s. I know authors are chameleons in portraying all sorts of characters -- so I don't know why I can't accept the above -- but I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be a person of color in pre-civil rights America -- and try to portray that in ink (as a white person). I appreciate that she tried to explain herself in her postscript, that it was an homage to her own "nanny" -- but even then she admits she never asked her what it was like. I want to read the African American version of The Help.

And like you said, we always have The Actor and The Housewife! The worse book EVER!

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