"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," confesses Cornelia Brown, whose witty observations and small epiphanies in the pages of Marisa de los Santos' Belong to Me surround readers like the warm embrace of an old friend. Cornelia and her impossibly handsome husband, Teo Sandoval, made their debut in the author's Love Walked In.
As this book begins, the couple is settling into their first house on an idyllic street in a picturesque Philadelphia suburb. Cornelia is inexplicably drawn to "this unsurprising place" that she yearns to call home, but her neighbors are less sure of how these transplanted, apparently childless urbanites will fare in their midst. Especially Piper Truitt. The epitome of blonde cool, this demanding mother of two has created her own version of perfection within the walls of a home that sits across the street from Cornelia's. From their early encounter at a dinner party, the two are at odds, a situation that Cornelia, adrift from her familiar surroundings, cannot conceive how to navigate.
As the novel progresses, new characters emerge. We meet Elizabeth, Piper's best friend, who's battling cancer, as well as Toby, Cornelia's brother, and Clare, the bright and compassionate teen familiar to readers of Love Walked In. Then there's Lake, a single mother working at a local Italian restaurant, who throws Cornelia a timely lifeline in the form of a dish of spaghetti alla puttanesca. Lake's son Dev, a preternaturally gifted 13-year-old, becomes Cornelia's unexpected kindred spirit. Deftly blending several tales at once, de los Santos' narrative is richly embroidered with intertwined lives and loves. As present circumstances are threatened by the revelation of past secrets, the friends forge a circle of strength and forgiveness that the reader, too, belongs to -- and will hate to leave when the last page is turned. A triumphant testimony to the power of love, Belong to Me hums with the hope that pulls friends through the ups and downs that the years hold in store for everyone.
About the Author
Belong to Me is Marisa de los Santos' second novel. Her bestselling debut, Love Walked In, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, has been optioned for film by Sarah Jessica Parker. De los Santos' fiction is peopled with fully realized personalities. She explains, "When it comes to creating characters, I'm a cunning and unrepentant thief. I steal all kinds of qualities, quirks, and language from people I know and from total strangers, but there's no character in my novel who matches up with one person walking around the real world." The protagonist of Love Walked In, Cornelia Brown, makes her second appearance in the pages of Belong to Me, and de los Santos admits that readers may not have seen the last of her. "She's a very hard girl to refuse, so if somewhere down the line she decides she's not finished with me, I'll have no choice but to write more of her story. Actually, I'd love it if that happened." Originally from Baltimore, de los Santos received a B.A. from the University of Virginia, an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Ph.D. in English literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. The award-winning poet currently teaches English at the University of Delaware and lives in Wilmington with her husband, David, and their children, Charles and Annabel.
From Our Booksellers
I was fooled into thinking this was going to be a fluffy chick-lit kind of book. Boy, was I wrong! I became so involved with these charming, fully-developed characters. The writing is so luscious! Like biting into a juicy peach, where every sense is touched and filled with delight and wonder. --Dorothy Newmark, Freehold, NJ
You will like, love, and hate these characters. But ultimately, you will miss them once they're gone. All I can say is, I want more! --Rosey McArdell, Apple Valley, MN
For anyone who has ever felt they don't fit in with the crowd. Spunky and fierce, Marisa de los Santos rewrites the whole chick-lit genre. --Angel Ramandt, Ellicott City, MD
Reading Belong to Me was like eating a delicious candy bar that -- as it turns out -- just happens to be good for you. --Rebecca Fell, Hamilton, NJ