Crime and Punishment

I just couldn’t do it. This book was Crime and Punishment for me. I made it into Part II and I just couldn’t take any more of the ravings of a crazy person. He killed the pawnbroker and got even more nuts. I can handle profound lunacy, but mostly, I couldn’t relate to the main character in any way and didn’t find his craziness thought-provoking. Call me shallow. Call me what you will. I couldn’t finish it. I found myself ready to mow and weed-eat the lawn with scissors rather than pick up that book.

So, I decided to start reading the kind of books I like to read for my book club posts. I found this book at Wal-Mart and thought I would give it a shot.

It’s obviously called Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I’d actually never read any of her stuff, but I really like it. I’m only about halfway through the book, but I’m really having a hard time putting it down. Those are the kinds of books I like to read. When I’m really into a book, nothing else gets done.

Belong to Me starts out with Cornelia who is making the move from the big city to the suburbs with her oncologist husband, Teo. Upon arriving in her new home, she meets her new neighbor, Piper. Piper is the kind of neighbor who sticks her nose immediately into your business and is always hurling veiled insults. However, she’s also that girl (we’ve all known them, ladies) that is holding onto her perception of perfection by the skin of her teeth. She’s actually a miserable person who thinks that if everything’s under control, then she has it altogether. Cornelia also meets a woman named Lake and immediately becomes friends with her, but Lake is extremely secretive and mysterious about her past life and why she and her genius son, Dev, moved to the same town. I wouldn’t exactly call the story suspenseful, but I just can’t put it down because I want to find out what’s going to happen. The book is told from the perspectives of Cornelia, Piper, and Dev and it’s really good so far.

I also like how this author challenges my vocabulary and my own personal creativity. Some of the pictures she paints are really beautiful and her wording is thought-provoking to me. I turned down pages of excerpts I really liked, for example:

“…, as I looked out the car window, were the clusters of women, at birthday parties, cookouts, standing in yards and kitchens, the air warm with their talking, and how oddly interchangeable we all were, women and children both. The woman who picked us up when we fell down or wiped our faces or fed us lunch or yelled us down from treetops or out of mud (all of it so casually, with barely a break in conversation or an extra breath) but could just have easily been someone else’s. We hardly noticed. The women merged into a kind of laughing, chatting, benevolent blur, a network of distracted love and safekeeping.

This is exactly what I was trying to say in my post about Mother’s Day. How only when you have a child do you realize that, in a way, you end up mothering the children of your friends, family, or even sometimes, strangers. There’s a connection there that’s hard to put into words.

“On a recent rainy Monday, I’d tried imagining the last month and a half of my life as a feature film, a game I play, secretly, fairly often, and that I’m convinced other people play, secretly, too. (I’m so convinced of this that I consider imagining your life as a feature film to simply be part of human nature…”)

Does anyone else do this? I totally do.

“Ever since the weekend following Thanksgiving, Dev had been leading a Clare-infused life. “You’re obsessed,” Aidan had teased him, but it wasn’t obsession. It wasn’t that thoughts of Clare drove out other thoughts. Okay, so this happened from time to time, once or twice a day, but mostly it was that Dev went about his normal life, except that everything he did or said or thought or read or saw or heard had just a little Clare in it, a tint, a touch, an inflection. She didn’t take over, but she was never absent.”

I love how she expresses first love and I like how it even applies to me and I’ve been married seven years. When you love someone, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, they’re always just kinda “there” in your mind.

Cornelia relays the safety she feels from her husband’s touch like this: “When he touched me, the world fell into alignment– a laying on of hands, a chiropractic of the soul…”  I LOVE that and can totally relate.

So, I guess after all is said and done, I can admittedly be a shallow-minded (because I didn’t like Crime and Punishment) sap. But, hey, at least I’m honest and I know what I like. Right now, although I haven’t reached the end of Belong to Me, I say, “Read it.” It’s funny and touching and real.

The Dairymaid

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