I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos

I loved her first (and possibly second?) book, but not whatever came after. She was an author I’d kind of soured on, but had high hopes for this one,which features some of the same characters from the first book.  Well, phew! I loved this.  This was told in a format I really enjoy: two stories told in alternating chapters, the story in the present day is a character who is trying to figure out a story in the past (a  bit of a mystery, or puzzle), and the alternating story, set in the past, is that mystery story happening. There was a Lisa Jewell story done this same way and I really enjoy it, especially when everything comes together in the end.

The characters in this story are the same characters from the first two books, but would you believe, despite some tidy summarizing, I really still can’t remember those books or what happens in them at all??! As you can see, though, it doesn’t matter if you knew those characters, you can read this as a full standalone novel. [*I just went back and read my 2008 post about Belong to Me, which did a tidy job of refreshing my memory. Interestingly the review also contains a nearly identical sentence to the one preceding this aside. I have no review of Love Walked In, so I must have read that pre-blog.]
In present day Clare is about to marry a seemingly perfect guy, but she bails on the wedding. She had misgivings about the whole thing and a conversation with a sweet old lady pushes her to take the step to cancel.  Weeks later she finds out the sweet old lady has died and left her a beautiful seaside house.  In the house she finds some mysterious ledgers and believes the sweet old lady, Edith, had something going on in the house that she is meant to figure out and embarks on a quest.  Meanwhile, the alternate chapters show us Edith as a young woman, in love, in that house, and the fascinating story of her life unfolds.

A couple of the things I liked about this story were the historical take on domestic violence, and also the natural beauty of Delaware and the wildlife they observed, very beautifully woven into the story. Edith’s love story is a bit Notebook-y (that is to say, so perfect and you can kind of visualize it in a golden glow, and also so sad.)

I really liked how the two stories were woven together and I was even a bit surprised at the ending (and delighted.) And though it’s not obvious to Clare, it will be obvious to literally every reader from the get-go how her romantic life will turn out.

*One very exciting part was when the character said there was a scene in a book she loved as a child and I thought “oh I wonder if I’ll recognize the book” and not only did I recognize it, it was from The Four Story Mistake, which is one of my all time favorites. It felt like a wonderful personal detail just for me and made me like the author even more (because I assume that she personally loves that book, too.)

Belong to Me by Marisa de lost Santos

I chose this as this month’s book club selection not really realizing that apparently it’s currently hugely popular, and also hugely popular with reading clubs. oh well. Well deserved though. There’s so much to talk about in this that I’m really looking forward to discussing it with my friends. I had wanted to read this book because it’s by the author of Love Walked In, a book I had read some time ago and really enjoyed. I didn’t even realize that this book is a sequel! I guess I didn’t remember that much about the first book so when I started reading this the main characters named sounded vaguely familiar but I still wasn’t quite sure. So, although it is a sequel it is completely stand alone.

Cornelia and Teo have moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia into a nice little neighborhood where people walk to their neighbors’ houses.  Cornelia feels like an outcast, especially when she meets nasty suburban Queen Been, Piper.  I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that when you read the first chapter, from Cornelia’s point of view, you hate Piper. She’s clearly a nasty bitch and you, the reader, are eager to be on Cornelia’s side.  And then you get to the next chapter from Piper’s point of view and of course find out she’s human and develop sympathy for her despite yourself.  There’s definitely an awful lot going on here: Piper has a best friend, Elizabeth, who is dying. Cornelia has a new friend, Lake, who has moved to the area possibly under interesting circumstances.  At least that’s what her genius son, Dev, thinks. Dev and Lake become friends with Cornelia and Claire, Cornelia’s special friend from Love Walked In.  There are many relationships here, all a little complicated, and they all connect in some way.  I thought it was great, loved how much there was to consider.  There are many points of view, which made it an easy book to put down at the end of a chapter (see, that’s good for me.) I hope my friends liked it as much as I did!