Friday, June 13, 2014

Things I Know About Love, by Kate Le Vann

Seventeen year-old Olivia comes to visit her brother in Princeton for a month in the summer.  Away from her home in England, she lets down her guard and falls in love with (an ironically) English boy named Adam.  But before all of that, she recounts for us all the previous experiences she has had with boys.  It's the usual heartbreaking and awkward encounters of adolescence and calculated to pull our heartstrings and make us feel sympathetic to the character.  And, if you left the story about ten pages before the ending, you would feel pretty good about the sweetness of Olivia and the wonderfulness of her love with Adam.  Unfortunately, the book takes a nasty sharp turn at the end and the whole thing goes up in smoke.

I started out really liking this book.  Olivia was wonderful and her recounting of her first boyfriends was poignant and realistic -- the sheer authenticity of the feelings and actions of the boys and her reaction to them were enchanting.  And when she meets Adam, the romance really grew organically and felt right.  Olivia is such a self-effacing and modest girl that it is hard for the reader not to embrace her.  All of which makes Le Vann's decision on how to end the story particularly brutal and cruel (and largely unnecessary!).  I don't reveal endings as a policy, so I can't tell you much more than that, but the ending basically ruined the story.

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