Reader reviews for Belong to Me

Starts slow but great story overall.
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I really loved this book - the depth of character that she gave each person - Dev's thought process in particular was "thought provoking". My only dislike was that after spending so much time on each character, she dashed through the ending. Seemed like she was in a hurry to finish.
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A story about Cornelia, a freespirited NYC dweller who moves out to Philadelphia's suburbs with her sweet, handsome doctor husband, a man she's known all of her life. Her new life gets off to an inauspicious start with several encounters with her new neighbor, Piper, a priggish soccer mom hellbent on enforcing the neighborhood's social standards down to the smallest details. Cornelia is lonely for friends until she meets a kindred spirit in Lake, a waitress who has devoted all of her resources to her brilliant and wise-beyond-his-years 13 y.o. son, Dev. Lake has big secret. The story is told in three voices, Cornelia's conversational first person and Piper and Dev's third person. I really liked this book. Cornelia is interesting and funny. Piper is much more than she seems, transforming as she nurses her best friend dying of cancer. And Dev is a treasure, a sweet boy attempting to understand his world through the scientific theories he studies. There's a thin line between heartwarming and sappy and de los Santos gets pretty close to crossing it as Cornelia and Piper become friends and better people and Dev finds a welcoming academic environment, friendship and love and untangles his mother's big secret.
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It was very sweet. There were some funny bits, some poignant bits, you know, a good mix. I wished I were reading it on the beach instead of on a train. But seriously, I got a lot of reading done on that train ride.
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I can't do justice to describe how wonderful this book was. Mrs. De Los Santos is, by training, a poet, and her poetry was embodied in every page of the story. This is a heartwarming love story from multiple perspectives. The characters grew richer throughout the novel as they developed stronger connections to themselves and their loved ones. I particularly loved watching the all-too-perfect, judgmental, perfect mom neighbor come to terms with her overperfection and let our heroine in to be a friend. Some parts made you laugh and at other times, I found my heart breaking. A wonderful story, which I hope will continue in another book?
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I thought this book was a bit slow at the beginning but I truly liked the main characters and decided to stick with it. The relationships between the women felt real and convincing. Everyone seems to know one of those overachieving mothers (Piper) as well as the free-spirit single mom (Lake). There is a twist at the end that helps to enhance the story but I also felt that there was an unexplained part to the story.
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I read this book before finding out it's a sequel. It didn't bother me at all. I try never to read passages out loud to my husband, yet I found myself on many occasions telling him he had to hear this paragraph or that exchange. Even more rare, he actually laughed as I read and sometimes had me read lines again. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Her characters are sharply drawn - three dimensional, flawed, lovely, real. Some may call it sappy, but I love a book in which a married couple wants to be married and actually loves each other and struggles together through the curve balls life tosses their way. Cornelia and Teo were interesting and wonderful. Piper, even when exasperating, quickly grew on me. Dev, Clare, Lyssa, and Aiden were lovable and hilarious. I want to live in this suburb, with all its foibles!
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I enjoyed this book even though the plot was very predictable and sappy. The story covers a group of women who live around each other and have the same circle of friends. Cornelia is the new girl on the block who is immediately rejected by Piper, the leader of her group. Piper's best friend Elizabeth is dying and as much as Piper controls all facets of her life, she can't control Elizabeth's inevitable death. Cornelia befriends Lake, a single mother, and her son Dev. The book primarily bounces from Cornelia's story, to Piper's and then to Dev's with all of it coming together in a somewhat happy ending...sappy but heartwarming.
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Amazingly skillful use of metaphor (makes you re-read some sentences with pleasure), a feel-good story of family and friends.
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Cornelia, a died in the wool city girl, moves with her gorgeous, oncologist husband Teo to the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, her prejudices about suburban life become reality almost instantaneously. No sooner had the couple moved in to their new house that nosy, opinionated neighbors, led by Piper, try to ensure that Cornelia and Teo live up to neighborhood expectations. Cornelia was miserable until Lake, a recent transplant from California, moves into the area. Although Lake’s easy friendship becomes distant as the holidays near, her son Dev quickly becomes a frequent visitor at Cornelia and Teo’s house. Dev, who has grown up without a father or any extended family feels at home with them and another teenager close to them – Clare. Just as Cornelia’s life starts to improve, things shake up for Piper and Dev. Soon, all of their lives are impacted as they learn more about themselves and each other. After her move to the suburbs, Cornelia’s life will never be the same.What made this novel so special to me were the voices of Cornelia, Piper and Dev. They were interesting and distinct individuals. As Cornelia was a first person narrator, I fell in love with her voice first. Her first encounters with Piper had me giggling, but I also quickly felt her pain as Lake started to pull away from her for no apparent reason. Dev is a refreshing adolescent male. He is both extremely smart and highly adaptable. He also wasn’t a flat, geeky character, either. He easily made friends in the right environment and I enjoyed his take on Clare as their relationship started to bloom. Despite the fact that I instantaneously fell into step with Cornelia and Dev, Piper was the most interesting character in the novel. Her journey from determining and living what was appropriate for all women and learning to be real and to follow her heart was deeply satisfying. Although toward the end of the novel, when Dev and Cornelia’s worlds are turned upside down, their combined introspection slowed the novel down for me, I admired and enjoyed each of the characters.Marisa de los Santos’ writing is as fluid and charming as she was when I heard her speak at the National Book Festival this past September. She brings her characters to life and makes them feel real and whole. During her talk there, she mentioned that Belong to Me is the sequel to Love Walked In, but that they were both writtent to be stand alone novels. I haven’t read Love Walked In yet, but I look forward to finding out more about Cornelia and Clare’s relationship. Clare is such a wonderful charcter in Belong to Me. I want to know more about her and her family life. Although I won’t know for certain until I read Love Walked In, I think it will enhance Belong to Me. From what I’ve read by de los Santos, I believe the opposite will be true as well.Belong to Me, as the title indicates, is about relationships – both biological and chosen. It illustrates so nicely the motto my parents used to have on their license plate frame: Love is a decision. Sometimes love is easy and full of warm emotion, but it is truly love when you decide to care for another person warts and all. It is also a good reminder that if you are not open to others, even when they don’t make a good first (or second or third) impression. If you shut down your heart, you may be missing out on what that person can add to your life. Belong to Me is both heartwarming and true, making it the perfect novel to read while relaxing on vacation or inside curled up on the couch on a rainy day.
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