Cara's Reviews > You

You by Joanna Briscoe
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's review
Feb 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fun-or-frivolity
Read on February 08, 2012

** spoiler alert ** This is a beautifully told story about lost love. The main character starts the book as a very serious, academic girl with old-fashioned ideas from reading too many old books. (I can relate!) Her hippie parents enroll her in this anything-goes hippie school, and she falls in love with her similarly out-of-place English teacher. Meanwhile, her mother falls in love with the English teacher's wife.

The story covers about a year in detail, then flashes forward to the main character's adulthood. After being away for years, she's moved back home with her daughters to help her mom, who has cancer. Also, and perhaps more importantly, she wants to find out everything she can about her baby (love child with the English teacher), who was adopted by persons unknown 23 years ago. She has a long-term boyfriend, the father of the daughters (except the middle one, who she adopted to try to alleviate some of her guilt for giving up the baby in her youth), but as she meets back up with the English teacher, she finds his pull undiminished. Meanwhile, her mother is engaged in a parallel struggle to free herself from his wife's hold.

This book is very well written and really made me care about the characters. Especially, while the main character is returning to the mistakes of her childhood, her daughters are starting to repeat the same mistakes themselves, and she's almost totally oblivious! That part made me want to smack her.

Everything turns out ok, though. My only real complaint is that the huge finale, the scene you've been hoping for throughout the whole book, where she's reunited with her lost child, is not included in the book. The book ends right before it. Argh! This bothered me so much, I kept writing the scene in my head, imagining how it would have gone.

Also, at the end, it seems like everything is settled, and the mom has even managed to free herself at last from her lover's hold on her... but then the English teacher calls the cottage, finally ready to leave his wife and run away with the main character after all these years. What does she do? That's left hanging. I'm not even sure how I want that part to turn out, honestly. It seems like the English teacher is a childhood fantasy, not something to go for in adulthood. On the other hand, the boyfriend appears so little in the book, it's hard to totally pull for him, either.

Anyway, this book was perfect for flying to Portland--even after I arrived, I wanted to keep reading. I really enjoyed it.

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