At the opening of a new year, I can’t help but think over the last one. This past year, I started this blog. I intended to write about writing, life, and share a little writing. Check, check, check. I also wanted to take about the books I read….. Um, I’ve been lazy here. So, for this new beginning, I will start sharing again. I read a lot last year, a few books that were great and that I never got around to even mentioning here. (Ahem. The Good Wifeby Gish Jen. Get it, read it, love it. If you’ve never read her, you should also really check out Mona in the Promised Land. It’ll change the way you look at America, culture, and growing up.) For the start of this year, I wanted to read something light and beautiful. I chose Love Walked In by poet Marisa De Los Santos.
As a poet who writes prose, I enjoy the attention to language she has. There is a whole passage where one of her two main characters obsesses over the fact that the guy she likes has a name with only three letters that aren’t in Cary Grant. As I said, only a poet. This is a split narrative. So far, I’ve only read the first two chapters which introduce us to Clarissa, a cafe manager falling into instantaneous love with an older man, and Claire, an eleven year old whose single mother is loosing her mental health.
So far, it is quite well written. Clarissa loves old movies and she and her love interest have a classic sort of flirting. I love when he asks her to go to London and she answers, “I can’t, my mother wouldn’t like it.” The whole thing is the sort of exchange I wish I was capable of. I’m convinced that I get so many odd lines that there is some girl out there that only gets picked up in picture perfect ways (because she gets all the good ones I am supposed to get and I get all her bad ones, a sort of flirtatious karma gone awry). Probably not, but a first chapter like this one does give a girl hope.
Really, though, the hook to this book is Claire. She is smart , but not in that cutesy way that so many writers trip up and make children. She’s been faced with becoming the adult in her relationship with her mother, and the responsibility shows. When her mother breaks school rules to take her to lunch, Claire consciously weighs her options, side with the school staff and shun her mother, or go with her and side with her “unconventional” ways. Claire chooses her mother, sliding into a child’s role that is younger than her own in order to do so, she even skips in the parking lot.
I could be wrong, this book could yet turn out to be a clunker. But I could also be right that it is going to be just what I need.