Customer Review

98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Storyline and Great Writing in This Book, April 3, 2008
This review is from: Belong to Me (Hardcover)
A refugee from intellectual city living, Cornelia Brown is the explorer of a new terrain: the burbs. She believes that her own wits and childhood environment have prepared her to live among the families who occupy its picturesque streets. However, as the book opens with her first cocktail party, Cornelia learns that settling in to her new life is not going to be as easy as she thinks; clearly, this is a foreshadowing of things to come. Her neighbor (the leader of the suburban pack) Piper quickly puts Cornelia in her place, although Cornelia is not sure just what that "place" is.

Thus begins the charming tale author Marisa de los Santos has presented in her second book, "Belong to Me." Thankfully, unlike many second novels from authors who have had a successful first book, readers can pick up and enjoy this book without knowing anything about de los Santos or the characters who inhabited her first novel. The joy from the beginning to the end of this story is complete unto itself, without history or explanation. De los Santos's strong characters and lyrical writing engage from the first pages and hold the reader's interest to the end.

Caught up in their own dramas, the women who inhabit the pages of "Belong to Me" are smart, tough, and sometimes catty. Their world encompasses the joys and pain of child-rearing, infidelity, and cancer, as well as the need to present a perfect image to the outside world. The glue that holds them together--as well as the story itself--is the human connection, the ability to reach out to a helping hand when things look most bleak.

This might sound like just another volume in the chick lit genre, but what de los Santos brings to her writing that takes this up a step is her beautiful phrasing. Pick up the book and open to any page. Somewhere therein, the reader will find some emotion or scene so beautifully described that it can only be placed in the realm of serious writers, of "literature."

This is really little surprise, given the author's vocation as poet, with a PhD in creative writing. All that study and writing practice by de los Santos has been carefully enfolded into a very compelling storyline in "Belong to Me." Without being distracted by her beautiful prose, she instead takes her (ok, largely female) audience on a lively journey that makes reading this book hard to put down, using her descriptions merely as enchantment along the way. She grounds her characters and stories in the foibles of daily life, never losing the central storyline despite her talent for turning a phrase.

In the end, "Belong to Me" is a great book because of its solid storytelling. It stands alone with its vulnerability and virtue, and it's likely that readers everywhere are going to be hearing a lot more about Marisa de los Santos.

Christine Zibas, Book Pleasures
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