Belong to Me

Belong to Me

3.8 495
by Marisa de los Santos
     
 

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Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others to protect those we love.

A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden desire to head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she's made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships. Cornelia's

Overview

Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others to protect those we love.

A devoted city dweller, Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden desire to head for an idyllic suburb. Though she knows she's made the right move, she approaches her new life with trepidation and struggles to forge friendships. Cornelia's mettle is quickly tested by judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt, the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she would find in suburbia. A saving grace soon appears in the form of Lake, and Cornelia develops an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman.

As their individual stories unfold, the women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined, and that ultimately teaches them what it means for one human being to belong to another.

Editorial Reviews

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"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
Redbook
Smart, funny writing about the risks we take for love.
Publishers Weekly

Cornelia Brown, heroine of de los Santos's bestselling Love Walked In, returns in a gracefully written if formulaic sophomore effort. Cornelia and her husband, Teo, move to suburban Philadelphia, where she finds it difficult to fit into the sorority-like atmosphere. Despite a bevy of domestic dramas (planning a family among them), Cornelia's first-person chapters are the quietest of the three points of view. Seemingly shallow and vicious, neighbor Piper shows her kinder side as she struggles through her best friend's fight against cancer. Though the extreme of Piper's two-facedness isn't convincing, her moments of sincerity invite genuine empathy. Cornelia also yields narrative time to Dev, a precocious teenager whose father is missing and whose mother develops a friendship with Cornelia. Dev's connection to the story is initially unclear, though he does grow close to Clare, a troubled teenager with an unconventional connection to Cornelia, and a late-breaking development grounds his role more firmly. Though each story line is a good read on its own, they don't always braid nicely, and while the predictable plot wanders into sappiness, the prose is polished and the suburban travails are familiar enough that fans of the women's fiction and higher-brow mommy lit will relate. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Having met Cornelia Brown in de los Santos's well-reviewed debut, Love Walked In, we now follow her and her oncologist husband, Teo Sandoval, to suburban Philadelphia. Piper Truitt lives across the street with her husband and two young children. She considers herself the arbiter of style and local propriety. Add to the mix waitress Lake and her son, Dev, who is enrolled in a private academy far superior to his previous California public school. From the outset, Cornelia and Piper are traveling down different paths, while Cornelia and Lake seem to hit it off. Go figure? But there is more beneath the surface of these women and their motivations than the lovely locale can mask. Dev thinks he and his mother moved to the area because his long-lost (and unknown to him) father is there. But how do you go about locating someone who's been gone for 13 years? Then Piper becomes caregiver to her longtime friend Elizabeth, diagnosed with cancer, a role that seems more appealing to Piper than wife to Kyle. These family dynamics collide and reconfigure in a variety of ways that readers will find fascinating. De los Santos keeps us totally engaged with these fragile creatures, who get under our skin and, ultimately, into our hearts. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
—Bette-Lee Fox Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
In de los Santos's second novel (Love Walked In, 2006), Cornelia Brown returns the as heroine, now married to handsome oncologist Teo and trying to make a new home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Having moved out of New York City after the double whammy of a miscarriage and 9/11, Cornelia finds herself a shunned outsider among the community's perfect blond matrons. Particularly unwelcoming is her tightly wound neighbor Piper, who is as sharp-tongued as she is judgmental about fashion, flowers and childrearing. Cornelia does begin a fledgling friendship with another newcomer, Lake, a waitress who has moved from California to enroll her genius 13-year-old son Dev in a special school after his previous school punished him for being too smart. Dev suspects there might be more to the move, that Lake may be moving them closer to the mystery father he's never met. As much as Cornelia likes Lake, she senses Lake holding back at crucial moments and responds in kind. Meanwhile, Piper turns out to be a far more complicated woman than she seems on the surface. She drops everything (but her children) to care for her best friend Elizabeth, who's in the last stages of cancer. By the time Cornelia succeeds in becoming pregnant, she and Piper have grown surprisingly close, each opening her heart a little to the other. Days after Elizabeth dies, Piper's husband leaves her and she finds herself an outcast for continuing her (platonic) involvement with Elizabeth's mourning husband and children. In another development, Dev stumbles on the truth Lake has been hiding and learns the identity of his father. The father is stunned; Cornelia is devastated; and oh-so-sensitive, intelligent Dev is furious. Needless tosay, a happy ending awaits Cornelia, but readers will be far more interested in Piper, a complex, genuinely intriguing character. Pages on which she appears glow; the rest merely flicker. Witty and intelligent but too often pat. Agent: Jennifer Carlson/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061838415
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/31/2009
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

It hit me then: Lake needed a friend, probably more than I ever did. She wasn't desperate (I thought that in her own way, Lake must be as immune to quiet desperation as Toby), but she needed a friend, and her need made her fragile as I'd never imagined she could be. So, with the sudden tenderness tugging on me as a gentle current and because I've required enough second chances myself to be a true believer in them, I took three big steps toward Lake, hugged her, sat her down, and made her talk.

Meet the Author

A New York Times bestselling author and award-winning poet with a PhD in literature and creative writing, Marisa de los Santos lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her family.

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Belong to Me 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 495 reviews.
bookloverme More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I had not heard of this author but since reading Belong to Me I have purchased her previous writing and have purchased two additional copies of Belong to Me to give as gifts. There are so many books that I read just because I bought them but this was one of those books that you can't wait to get back to. The writing style is so readable and the author is "spot on" in describing life in suburbia today. The dual plots kept me reading late into many nights. Definitely a book for gals - probably not something the guys would enjoy.
Liz_beth More than 1 year ago
Loved Walked in has become one of my favorite books, so I looked forward to reading Belong to Me. I couldn't help but to compare the two books and they are different so it took me a moment to adjust and once I got past that, I enjoyed Belong to me immensely. It had a slower start and build up but the characters turned out to be as rich as the first book, complex and utterly human. The story was beutiful and complicated, and happy and sad and everything rolled into one. You care about the people in the story, they become your friends for the lenght of the book and you laugh and cry when they do. At the back of the book, Marisa gives the slightest hint of someday writing Clare and Dev's story and I can't wait for the day that story comes. Great read!
galkj More than 1 year ago
What a lovely story. In the beginning, I was as uncertain as the main character as to whether I'd like the place or the people. But what a genuine and interesting story. And Marisa de los Santos is a very good writer. The way she wrote Cornelia's character reminds me of the way I talk and think. And how Piper responds is how I'm sure a lot of people respond to me. And having just moved from Claymont, Delaware, I could picture exactly the type of community in which this story is set. And and uplifting.
IrishGeekReader More than 1 year ago
The beginning didn't immediately grab me and pull me in as other books have but progressively got better as I got farther into the book. There are definitely some twists you may not see coming. I enjoyed all of the characters but one...because it is not just one story but segments put together, it can be hard to keep things on track if you only read a little at a time or if you really enjoy a chapter only to start the next one and discover it's about a different character but over all it was good. Not the best literary reading for me but I was satisfied in the end, just wish the whole book was that way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A lot of hype about the release of this book made me want to read it. I could barely make it to the end. Yawn
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very disappointing. It was a novel of stereotypes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stories of Cornelia, Piper and Dev intersect in a number of compelling ways, resulting in some good plot developments. Yet, overall, this is a character-driven novel, and it is the inner lives of the three main figures that make it such a page-turner. Cornelia's portions are written in first-person narration while those of Piper and Dev are told in third person. Her shift in perspectives is successful because the tone and pace remain consistent, and each character has a worthwhile and unique point of view. The secondary characters --- Elizabeth, Dev's friends, Teo and Cornelia's brother --- are all given just the right amount of attention, adding to and not distracting from the story. Thankfully, unlike many second novels from authors who have had a successful first book, readers can pick up and enjoy this book without knowing anything about de los Santos or the characters who inhabited her first novel. The joy from the beginning to the end of this story is complete unto itself, without history or explanation. De los Santos's strong characters and lyrical writing engage from the first pages and hold the reader's interest to the end. In the end, "Belong to Me" is a great book because of its solid storytelling. It stands alone with its vulnerability and virtue, and it's likely that readers everywhere are going to be hearing a lot more about Marisa de los Santos. Highly recommend this book.   
Out_on_the_deck More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to read this novel and left it until last of a recent shipment, based on Love Walked In. I could not be more disappointed. Not by the story as a whole; but, the lack of "something" in the story near the end. The story started out very well written from the beginning through the end of the middle, wonderful plot & character development. But the story seemed to go astray from the moment it began addressing the issue of Lake, Teo & Dev. It felt like something BIG went missing and/or wasn't developed appropriately. It was at that moment the novel took a turn that I couldn't take with it. Such a shame. It feels like a great story was rushed to publication.
Narro-quod-eruditio More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be one I was able to pick up and put down. It did not require that one be a scholar in any manner. Our book club had just finished Pillars of The Earth and this selection was chosen to 'wind us down' a bit. While not truly predictable, it was a touching and wonderful feel good story in which heartache, happiness and predictability kept you turning the pages. It was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
Although this book is brillantly written, throughout the first 1/3 of the novel I felt as though it was very disjointed; And then BAM!; everything comes together. This is a story of family, maybe by birth but mostly not.  It is a story of lives intertwined; full of sorrow, joy, forgiveness and love.  Great read for yourself or to discuss at book club. 
luv2readWI More than 1 year ago
I normally gravitate to books that have a single protagonist and plot line, but the stories of the different characters in this book were all engaging. The writing style was conversational and yet filled with poetic observations.
Wrighty More than 1 year ago
Cornelia Brown and her husband Mateo have been married for 2 years and have had enough of city life. They find a house in the suburbs in a nice neighborhood. Fitting in does not come easy at first to the very friendly Cornelia. She meets Piper first who lives across the street and is the embodiment of perfection - in her mind. She is rude and has her standards set too high. Not everyone is so hard to get along with and soon they have found friends. It doesn't take long to discover that even in the suburbs people have serious problems of their own - marital difficulties, illnesses, financial issues - can touch anyone. Cornelia and Mateo are good people and good friends and they find ways to help those in need. Funny characters and touching moments. I received this book as a gift and I was thrilled! I heard such good things about it and was happy to find them true. This is a new favorite for me. Loved the cover!
Heather Frechette-Crowl More than 1 year ago
This is one of those rare books that I wished I had never begun to read. Halfway through you've already invested enough time in it that you want to see how it plays out, but in the end it doesn't even make sense. There are one too many story lines taking place and an extremely weak attempt to have them meet in the middle. The author's failed attempt at introducing mystery doesn't even make sense - with an outcome that is more convenient for the writer than plausible. I rarely write reviews, but save yourself the time and money and skip this book!
Cathy28 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book. I felt the author really developed her characters well. I found myself wanting to jump ahead to see what happens next. She expertly weaves the lives of the four main characters. The story line was engaging. The author truly brings her subjects to life. You feel you definitely know someone like them.The title fits the story well. It was a very touching story about people and their perceptions of others. After reading this I am looking forward to reading more by this author. I would highly recommend it for a good summer read, a book to take to the beach or the mountains.
KerryAnnWI More than 1 year ago
Hard to keep my attention. When I would put it down for more than a day and try to come back, it was hard to figure out what the story line was again, until I was well into the book. The chapters change first person narrative with the characters, but not all of them, just enough to keep you slightly off balance for awhile. Unless you can spend a good chunk of time reading each time you pick it up, I would not recommend lightly.
sara_p More than 1 year ago
Marisa de los Santos writes with a voice that is truly compelling. She puts you in the same place as the characters about which you are reading. I would recommend this book to anyone I meet on the street - it's inspiring and presents a new view on relationships that other authors have tried to convey but haven't quite as successfully as de los Santos. Excellent!
Crowned82 More than 1 year ago
With the last word of Love Walked In beautifully bringing it to a close, I had a sense of fulfillment- I felt at peace with the path Cornelia, Clare & Teo¿s lives would take (I say ¿path¿ singularly, because I knew in my heart that they would be on it together). Marisa de los Santos majestically captures each character¿s susceptibilities, hopes & jubilations. This book has an abundance of quotes from other literary figures but some of the most profound words I read were those of Ms. de los Santos thru her brilliantly real, emotional, relatable characters. While Belong To Me is also about friendship, love & soulmates walking into our lives when they are already in it or when it¿s least expected & sometimes when the timing is so wrong it¿s right, it is also about family (whether bound by blood or circumstance), not fitting in, acceptance, undeniable realizations, the blessing of life not always going as planned, `certain people changing the way time moves¿, `the soul selecting its own society¿ & belonging...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is the continuation of a story line that began in 'Love Walked In' by the same author. Although this book can easily stand on its own, I think you realize the full flavor of the story if you have read that prior novel. The characters are so very well written. The plot takes a variety of twists and unexpected turns. The emotional impact of life's major events is vividly conveyed. This was a most pleasant and fascinating read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book full of life and love. Highly recommend!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the story but found it moved slow!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A white family trailer a few miles away from the main camp. It's fenced in and its high off the ground out of zombies reach. (Unless they climb...then you're screwed..)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story, characters, and an interesting plot. Would recommend to readers who like family and romance stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago