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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review: Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Mad Love
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (January 4, 2011)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Book Opening:    

"When you're sixteen, summer is supposed to spread before you like a magic carpet, waiting to carry you to new, exciting places. Paperback novel in hand, bare feet buried in speckled sand, long kisses with the boy in the kayak- that's what it's supposed to be about." 

  Notable Scene:  

"I'm Cupid. The original, one and only Cupid."
I clenched my hands into fists. "YOU SHOT ME WITH AN ARROW?" - Pg 132 ARC version
On the surface, I thought Mad Love sounded like a sweet, quirky story that I'd settle in to read along with my comfy quilt and a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The idea of Cupid stalking the sixteen-year old daughter of a famous romance writer really appealed to me.  What a creative and fun idea!  Unfortunately, I'm sad to say that my experience with Mad Love didn't quite live up to the high hopes I had for the book.

HIGHLIGHTS: I thought it was endearing how much Alice loved her mom, the bestselling "Queen of Romance." There was nothing Alice wouldn't do to protect her mom from the media and that would be a huge burden for any teenager to bear. I only imagine how exhausting it would be to constantly have to lie and keep up appearances. This was actually the strongest component of Mad Love for me. And after reading the author's notes at the end, I found it even more compelling because Suzanne Selfors used experiences from within her own family to help in constructing the book.

I also want to note that the minor characters like Mrs. Bobot and Realm were actually really well fleshed-out and downright hilarious.  At times I found them even more entertaining than Errol or Alice!

LOWLIGHTS: Alice, while definitely cute as a button, often reminded me more of a 13-year old rather than a 16-year old, which I found odd because this was a girl who had to essentially be the "adult" all the time due to her mom's illness.  Alice's experience with boys and her conversations with the "skate board guy" made it hard for me to believe that she could be a 16-year old and this skewed the book to a middle-grade level for me. But one thing about Alice- she was definitely one of those characters you'd want to have in your life—sweet, trustworthy and always there for you no matter what. 

My biggest issue with Mad Love, however, was that it took FOREVER for Alice to realize that Errol was Cupid. Now, I know that  if some strange guy started stalking me and insisting he was Cupid, that I'd never in a million years believe him either. But for the sake of the story and the need to keep the plot moving, I believe Alice should've caught on so much quicker than she actually did.  

As for Errol, I didn't connect with his character or feel drawn to him at all.  Even now, I still don't have a clear picture of him in my mind.  I had imagined him as this tall, dark and handsome guy with so much passion bottled up inside him. But the actual Errol in Mad Love wasn't anywhere near as colorful as the one I had imagined, and this was extremely disappointing. Yes, some of the reasoning for this was explained later on but by that time I was too far removed to really care...

BOTTOM LINE: While Mad Love was not as enjoyable to me as Selfors' previous novel, Coffeehouse Angel (or even on the same level to be honest), I do think that the book will find an audience with a much younger teen demographic—it's got this sweet, adorable appeal to it that I think certain readers will connect with and walk away from with a smile.  Though this  wasn't a knock-out of the park for me by any means, I really adore Suzanne Selfors' writing and will continue to support her work in the future. 

 \Coffeehouse Angel Saving Juliet

Suzanne SelforsSuzanne Selfors is the author of Coffeehouse Angel and Saving Juliet. She held a number of jobs before becoming a writer, including children's photographer, video producer, organic flower grower, and marketing director. She lives in Washington.

Official Website of Suzanne Selfors

1 comment:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds pretty sweet and kinda perfect for me. Great review!