Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book review: Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

If I was still a twenty-something, I might have found this book much more profound. As I watched reruns of Friends last weekend, I was reminded about how waitressing is a real career for some people at that age, and how sleeping around is much more of a thing, and being aimless. However, I just don't find those topics as interesting any more, and I do find them a little sad.

In Love Me Back, Marie is a waitress in a succession of improving restaurants in Dallas. She got pregnant in high school, and although she graduated and she and the father got married, her life seems to have hit a dead end at eighteen. She doesn't seem to have any aspirations beyond the next paycheck, and from the state of her sex life, she seems to have very low self-esteem (why that is, isn't addressed.) The book occasionally seems like it is Marie telling her daughter about her past but if so, wow, it's horribly inappropriate with demeaning sex acts, drugs, and other base acts that make Marie seem very sad and pathetic. She thinks she's in control and having fun, but it's very obvious to readers that she is neither. In the middle of the book there's an odd chapter told from the point of view of the pianist at the very fancy steak restaurant, but that's not repeated and seemed pointless. Marie intersperses chapters where she speaks directly to the daughter about how she met the daughter's father, and her and his relationship, with the chapters about her life now. She does start to shape up, stops doing drugs, stops sleeping around so much, but I still don't have the feeling by the end that she's on a much better path. Or that she knows what she wants in life.

I was excited to read a Rona Jaffe-award winner, but the book was too focused on the immediate, suckyness of life. And while I know that for a very young twenty-something, it's hard to look beyond the end of one's nose or past paying this month's rent, it still felt very cloistered and naval-gazing. I like young adults this age and I don't find the ones I've met to be so unambitious (even if they don't know what to do) and so self-destructive (even if they have made bad decisions and have bad stuff in their past.) I think it is in fact pretty accurate about this time of one's life, and how it would be for a very young mom with no skills, but I might just be too old for this book.

I checked this book out of the library.

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