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Belong to Me: A Novel Paperback – March 31, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 295 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cornelia Brown, heroine of de los Santos's bestselling Love Walked In, returns in a gracefully written if formulaic sophomore effort. Cornelia and her husband, Teo, move to suburban Philadelphia, where she finds it difficult to fit into the sorority-like atmosphere. Despite a bevy of domestic dramas (planning a family among them), Cornelia's first-person chapters are the quietest of the three points of view. Seemingly shallow and vicious, neighbor Piper shows her kinder side as she struggles through her best friend's fight against cancer. Though the extreme of Piper's two-facedness isn't convincing, her moments of sincerity invite genuine empathy. Cornelia also yields narrative time to Dev, a precocious teenager whose father is missing and whose mother develops a friendship with Cornelia. Dev's connection to the story is initially unclear, though he does grow close to Clare, a troubled teenager with an unconventional connection to Cornelia, and a late-breaking development grounds his role more firmly. Though each story line is a good read on its own, they don't always braid nicely, and while the predictable plot wanders into sappiness, the prose is polished and the suburban travails are familiar enough that fans of the women's fiction and higher-brow mommy lit will relate. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to move to the suburbs with her husband. Her mettle is quickly tested by her impeccably dressed, overly judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt—the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she'd find in suburbia. With Lake, another recent arrival, Cornelia shares a love of literature and old movies—as she forms an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman and her perceptive, brilliant young son Dev.

Acclaimed bestselling author Marisa de los Santos's literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between three unforgettable women, deftly entangling her characters in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061240281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061240287
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When readers first meet Cornelia Brown, one of three protagonists in Marisa de los Santos's second novel, BELONG TO ME, it seems that her tale will be one of trading an exciting life in the big city for a quiet one in the suburbs. But what unfolds is much more complex and interesting.

Cornelia and her husband Teo have just moved from New York to a sleepy, upper-class Philadelphia suburb, and she's having a bit of trouble fitting in. She misses the pace, creativity and intellectual stimulation of the city and finds little in common with the other women, wives of professional men, she comes into contact with. She's particularly put off by her snotty neighbor, Piper Truitt. But when she meets the eccentric Lake, a single mom also new to town, she has hope that a solid friendship is developing.

Piper is a stereotypical affluent WASP ice princess. But, in de los Santos's able hands, she undergoes a radical yet mostly believable transformation. Piper and her husband Kyle are the alpha couple of the community. Piper is a mother of two, overly concerned with propriety and appearance. She is most at ease when caring for her kids and spending time with her best friend Elizabeth. When Elizabeth is diagnosed with cancer, Piper's world begins to crumble, but through the illness, she rebuilds it into one more genuine and compassionate. As all of her energy goes into caring for Elizabeth, she finds herself distanced from Kyle and her previous petty concerns and becoming close with Cornelia, the neighbor she once dismissed. Elizabeth's illness challenges Piper to change and to learn to accept not only other people but her true self as well.

Meanwhile, young Dev, a kind-hearted genius preoccupied with String Theory and poetry, is faced with his own set of challenges.
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Format: Hardcover
(Spoilers alert)
This was the March selection for our local book club. We read Marisa de los Santos' "Love Walked In" last year. However, I did not immediately make the connection that "Belong To Me" is a sequel; I was probably 1/2 way through the book when a light bulb went off.

A good sequel continues the action/motivations of the first book, while telling a fresh story and further developing the characters; on those counts, "Belong to Me" is unsatisfying and weakly structured. The jacket blurb suggests that this is a story of a misfit in suburbia, and her nemesis, a "Ms. Perfect" named Piper Truitt...however that angle is tossed aside within a few pages. We learn little, even nothing, about the affluent Philadelphia suburb in which the characters live -- what makes it special or unique, or even safe, or prosperous. We are told that protagonist Cornelia feels a "sudden urge" to give up urban life and live in the 'burbs, but this is never explained nor do we learn the roots of her sudden conventional behavior.

"Belong To Me" ambitiously tries to tell several stories, and intertwine them. Cornelia and her handsome physician husband Teo are trying to have a baby, haunted by a miscarriage that occurred right on 9/11. Perfect housewife Piper is caring for a dying friend, a mission that disrupts her own marriage. Teen genius Dev is searching for his unknown father. There are several other minor threads, barely completed, about Cornelia's brother and the baby he is having with a reluctant girlfriend.

It takes a lot of skill to do this kind of book, and even more to avoid obvious cliches. "Belong To Me" veers on the edge of a cliff, then plunges into soap opera territory.
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Format: Hardcover
Another current fiction bestseller that I picked up at the library in my attempt to keep up with what's hot in the bookstores at the moment. The author is new to me, as she may be to many, but she's a skilled writer. Unfortunately, her talent did not successfully trump the complete disinterest I had in the story and any of its characters.

The synopsis sounded good, certainly. From Amazon.com: Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others we keep to protect those we love. A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised no one more than herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to leave urban life behind and head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she and her beloved husband, Teo, have made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships in her new home. Cornelia's mettle is quickly tested by judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt. Perfectly manicured, impeccably dressed, and possessing impossible standards, Piper is the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she would find in suburbia. A saving grace soon appears in the form of Lake, a warm yet elusive woman who is also a recent arrival in town. As their individual stories unfold, the women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined, and that ultimately teaches them what it means for one human being to belong to another.

Much of the story is told in first-person narrative by Cornelia, alternating with third-person views from Piper and Dev, Lake's 14-year old `gifted' son. Piper, ironically, was the only one I actually liked. I was turned off by both Cornelia's and Dev's overly-witty tones and attempts at sardonic humor.
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