Our Bookbag title today is from a genre I don’t often read – women’s fiction. I chose to read this one, In the Context of Love by Linda Sienkiewicz, partly because I’ve come to know Linda via the interwebs over the years and partly because it’s been a finalist for several awards (this list comes from the book’s Amazon page).
Finalist, 2016 Sarton Women’s Book Award
Finalist, 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction
Finalist, 2016 Reader’s Choice Award for Women’s Fiction
Finalist 2016 Best Book Awards, Women’s Lit
I figured, hey, this look promising. And I’m so glad I looked past my general distaste for mushy, gushy love stories (which I was a little afraid this was) and gave it a shot.
For the record, it’s neither mushy nor gushy.
It’s the story of Angelica, a young woman who begins her tale as a teenager in the seventies. She lives with her parents and grandmother, and she dates a boy they don’t approve of. During this time, she also learns a disturbing secret about her mother and herself.
What makes this book different from others I’ve read in any genre is it’s written “to” the boy she dates, like a letter. Throughout the story there are sentences directed at that character, which stand out because they feature the use of second person perspective.
You nodded and stretched your hand toward me across the back of the seat, making the nape of my neck tingle, the fine hairs lifting with electricity. “Yep. 1966 Chevy Bel Air.”
“Then you must have a job.”
“Been working at Hillside Market since I was fifteen.” You sighed so dramatically. “Stocking shelves, packing bags, smashing little old ladies’ loaves of bread, swabbing floors, killing rats. You wouldn’t believe how many rats we find in the storeroom. Fun stuff. I love my job.” I was horrified to think of rats roaming in the store where Mom bought our groceries.
This style is most apparent in the chapters where the boyfriend appears, but it continues after Angelica is forced to break up with him and doesn’t see him again for twenty years. It’s a story “for him,” but we get the benefit of seeing how Angelica grows from her experiences, both personally and in her relationships.
Her story is not an emotionally easy one to read – anyone triggered by stories of rape or domestic violence should be wary. But while those elements are part of Angelica’s story, Sienkiewicz does not use them just for shock value. They are important to the plot and to Angelica’s character.
What I books are in your Bookbag?