Marijke Schermer – Love, If That’s What It Is

Marijke Schermer – Love, If That’s What It is

They have been married for 25 years but now, Terri fells like suffocating. She can no longer go on being the housewife in the suburbs whose daily routines have been the same for decades and who has lost all individuality. When she meets Lucas, she falls for him and leaves her husband David. Neither he nor their two daughters Ally and Karla can understand Terri’s behaviour. While Terri finds the second love – if that’s what it is since it does not actually go far beyond bodily desires – her eldest daughter finds her first love. David and Ally need more time to adjust to the new situation, but they two learn that another life is possible.

Marijke Schermer cleverly composes her novel to show quite different types of love. On the one hand, there is the reliable love that has been formed during years of marriage, where the partners know each other with all their weaknesses and have formed dependable routines. On the other hand, Terri lives an ecstatic love with Lucas which does mainly focus on bodily needs but not on getting to know the other’s character. Love within the family – which should be something you can trust on and which deeply disappoints if this is not the case – the first love with butterflies in the stomach and the love between those who have already loved, have been disappointed and not in the middle of their age, approach the concept with reluctance.

I liked the interchange of the different perspectives which are cleverly linked within the story. We often get the same moment first from one then from another character’s perspective thus outlining how they might differ in the assessment of the situation and also showing the different expectations they have.

Interestingly, I can easily understand Terri’s feeling of suffocating and wanting to break out of her life after so many years of only following routines, of feeling like having lost her self and being stuck in a dead-end. David’s perspective, too, is easy to follow. He and Terri have been a team, their family is their common endeavour, she cannot just stand up and go! For him, all was fine up to that moment and thus, he is totally surprised by his wife’s move. For the girls, the situation is hardest, family is the concept they have known and even though they have been confronted with separations and divorces this has been something that happened to others but not to them. How can they experience something like the first love when love can hurt so much?

A wonderfully written novel, right out of life which I totally enjoyed reading.

Ariel Kaplan – We Regret to Inform You

ariel-kaplan-we-regret-to-inform-you
Ariel Kaplan – We Regret to Inform You

Mischa Abramavicious is the perfect student: she has all the grades it needs to get into the best colleges, her list of extracurricular activities is impressive and her single-parent mom will be proud of her. But on Admission Day, she only gets rejections. None of the schools has admitted her, not even the local safety college. But how come? Mischa doesn’t dare to tell her mother but starts investigating instead. Together of the Ophelia Club, a bunch of tech-wise girls of her school, and her friend Nate, they discover that marks and letter of recommendation have been changed – but why, and especially: be whom?

“We Regret to Inform You” is a well-written novel about today’s teenagers and the pressure they are under. Only when the whole world falls apart for Mischa does she realize that she actually has no hobbies, not even an interest but that she has spent the last for years only working for her résumé and to fulfil her mother’s expectations. The later, too, also put much in her daughter’s future, invested money she didn’t have to get her into an expensive private school which promised the best starting point for an Ivy League University.

I really liked Ariel Kaplan’s style of writing. Even though a major catastrophe is happening to the protagonist, the novel is not really depressing but quite entertaining since there are many comic situations and ironic dialogues. The novel concentrates on the positive side which I liked a lot, Mischa doesn’t give up, but her focus shifts and she finally gets to understand herself better. She makes the best of it and fights for her rights – but not at the expense of everything else. So, it still is a young adult novel even though there are some underlying very serious issues.