Finished this book: Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

Cover of Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos.

Cover of Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos.

This book was so gentle it was bland. Like plain potatoes. Kind of a disappointing chew.

The story was told from the point of view of three characters, Piper, Cornelia, and Dev. Cornelia’s part is told from the first person perspective, and the others from the third person, which is actually a technique I tend to like. De los Santos even manages to write that first-person perspective in a distinctive voice, which is always fun.

But the characters are… well… they are mostly nice people (or turn out to be nice people in the end), but there’s very little portrayal of how their characters develop. It’s more descriptive. And even in the case of Piper, who is initially portrayed (but not sharply) as a status-conscious snark, the change in her outlook is something that seems to “just happen.” It’s as if the characters who had problems or personality quirks just magically become smoothed out and generous, with little real exploration of how they got to be prickly in the first place, or what had led them to change now.

It’s a good beach book. I liked it more than I disliked it. But it was plain oatmeal when it could have been so much more. The plot was good, with interesting twists, but it felt like de los Santos didn’t do nearly as much with it as she could have done.

Also, the characters all have so much money. Or not necessarily money, but… freedom, ease, a lack of concern with bills and meals. Even the “struggling” single mom has a lovely place and lands on her feet. At the start of the book, Piper is helping to care for a friend who is dying of cancer (you’d think there’d be some depth there, right?), and her concerns partly involve the softness of the paper towels, the cleanliness of the fridge door, and arranging fresh flowers for her sick friend. Yes, these things are important, and you could make a case for these being controllable things Piper can manage while her friend is dying, but de los Santos does not make that case. The characters, while mostly likeable and interesting, are mostly kind of oblivious and entitled in a way that frankly bores me.

Maybe part of the problem is that they don’t have real flaws. And the little flaws they do have are just cute or forgivable or “magically” disappear over the course of the book. They aren’t real people, just cut-outs of people.

I don’t feel I wasted my time reading it, but I wouldn’t read it again. This one goes into the Give-Away Pile.

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. 2008.




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