Obviously, someone read my blog.
About a week ago, I received another package from the lovely Penguin Canada, containing a few books. This, as usual, elicited a SQUEE! and WOOHOO! from me as I love getting new books. To the top of the 3.5 foot tower of “to be read” they went.
I finished with whatever I had been reading, and dove into “The Opposite of Love” by Julie Buxbaum. The synopsis had caught my eye-successful lawyer up and dumps her boyfriend as he’s about to propose, and she can’t explain it. She just knows it’s her. Throw in a job with a “hands on” boss, a Grandpa who’s slowly losing it and her distant father. Top it off with the memory of a dead mother.
So, we know the dead mother clinched it for me, and I just had to get reading.
I really like this book. Now, I know, reading about single girl heartbreak isn’t normally my preferred demographic, but this book is strong. While the character isn’t entirely likeable all the time, she is understandable, especially for someone who has also lost her mother.
Emily, our main character, is very familiar to me. Maybe not the lawyer part, but the inability to connect properly to others, spurning love and happiness because we’re scared of hurting again, in that oh so particular way of letting go of our defenses-I recognize that, and connected very strongly to Emily.
Having to take care of her Grandpa as her father was absent, likely unwilling himself to suffer another loss, was just another facet of the motherloss experience. Having to take responsibility, having to become the parent. Being protective and closed in about the people we do love.
Ultimately, Emily learns from the people in her life-learns that to live, we do need to take a chance, do need to love. That the people who love her will be there, will not break her, will not leave her.
The writing is strong, in the way I like it. When the writing is such that I don’t notice it, that I become immersed in the people, the characters. When I stay up almost all night reading, when I’m excited to pick up the book again-the writing is strong, the writing is good, and it’s honest.
This isn’t a heavy book-the writing is still light (for the subject matter) and in parts very witty and fun to read. But it’s also a great conversation on how we find it in ourselves to love when the very capacity to do so has been damaged almost beyond repair.
The Opposite of Love is out now in paperback, and is being made into a movie with Anne Hathaway. Ms. Buxbaum’s next novel, After You is available this August.