Title: Love in Complete Sentences
Author: Mary E. Mitchell
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Kate Cavanaugh’s beloved husband Adam passed away two years ago, but the pain of that loss is still raw and fresh to Kate. She’s a guidance counselor at a high school, but she wonders what her colleagues think of her because everyone can see that her teenage daughter, Charlotte, is out of control. Meanwhile, Kate’s young son Hunter has taken to carrying around a ketchup bottle as a sort of security blanket, which worries Kate. Kate’s family is broken and she has no idea how to fix things and bring her children and herself to a place of happiness.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a solid women’s fiction novel that grapples with serious issues, so I was looking forward to reading Love in Complete Sentences. While it’s so heartbreaking to read about a broken, struggling family, it’s wonderful to see them endure these hard times and come out stronger and wiser on the other end. Love in Complete Sentences was exactly that, but also so much more.
Kate was an incredibly vivid character that I couldn’t help but like. I really loved the fact that she wasn’t perfect. She made a lot of mistakes; there were times I wanted to insert myself into the novel as a character (or maybe pull Kate out) in order to talk some sense into her, especially with how she dealt with Charlotte. But even though I could see she was making a mistake, I understood where it was coming from. I could see her fear and loneliness, her inability to move on after the death of her husband. Kate was trying as hard as she could to be the best mother she knew how to be, but she was crippled by Adam’s loss. Her desperation seemed so real and genuine to me that I felt like Kate was a living, breathing person.
The relationship between Kate and Charlotte is one of the central foci of the novel, and it’s certainly a difficult one. Charlotte is a teenager who acts out constantly, and while it is very frustrating (the reader can completely understand why Kate has such trouble dealing with her), there are also reasons behind what she is doing. Mitchell did an excellent job writing Charlotte as a completely believable teenager who, at her core, just wants to be loved for who she is.
If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, don’t hesitate to pick up Love in Complete Sentences. This book would make a wonderful book club pick, as readers will want to dissect and discuss Kate and Charlotte to try and understand these two complicated characters. Mitchell does a wonderful job portraying real life, as opposed to a fairy tale, and it really makes the novel worth reading. I really enjoyed every second I spent with it and look forward to seeing what Mitchell does next.