Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The Story of Us
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
Simon Pulse, 2012
After enjoying the powerful Stay, I eagerly picked up this latest release from Caletti, anticipating another great story (and hearing Taylor Swift in my head; I love this song!) Would this "look (sic) a lot like a tragedy now"?
Well, sad to say this was most definitely not to my taste for many reasons. The premise I expected was a character narrating the romance and break-up with a guy. That's part of it with main character Cricket tracing her relationship with Janssen up to and past the awful thing she did to him (this is not revealed until toward the end so I will not share it here). The story as a whole ended up being more expansive, including her family's history and their moving on to create a new family as her mother prepares to marry a really good guy. The story takes place over a few days at the beach house where people gather. I didn't have a problem with that. I had a problem with other parts.
First I had the hardest time with the characters. There were a lot of them introduced as people gathered for a wedding and while I could keep track of their relationships, sometimes their specific personality quirks eluded me and I confused two people. Furthermore there are a lot of references to the past to trace how the characters reached the present. This was usually clearly marked and I've often liked the mingling of past and present in a story but I did not like that method for this one. I think I found it more distancing because of Cricket's voice.
Then there was my uncertainty about what Cricket did that was so awful to her boyfriend. I figured she had cheated...or come very close. Nope, nothing that bad, in my opinion. I think it was perfectly understandable for their situation in life. Furthermore while Cricket thought about this, she became upset that he was friendly with another girl. Meanwhile Cricket was cozying up to another guy! Hypocrite and another reason I was unable to bond with this girl.
I also really didn't like that we saw the letters Cricket sent to her boyfriend, who was presumably responding but whose responses are not shown. This felt very one-sided to me. I think I might have been more interested in this book if it had been alternating Cricket/Janssen chapters to tell the story of them from the beginning to the end.
Lastly there is a lot of talk about dogs. Now I am a cat-person (remind me to show you pictures of my cat some time) but I still like dogs. Or at least I thought I did. I was a little tired of how they were used in this story to prove some kind of point, I think. I didn't really get it. I mean, I understand the relationship between human and pet and I value mine but it was too much.
Overall: I feel like this is definitely not up to the standard set by Caletti with the masterful Stay; it was abstruse and emotionally distancing. While I wish I could recommend this contemporary, it did not work for me.
Cover: Is appropriate as the setting is near a beach and I love the pinks on the side and the book itself.