Title: The Story of Us
Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fiancés, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise:
Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war.
While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her….
I’ve loved some Deb Caletti novels and disliked others; this particular one, her latest (it’s from early 2012, I believe), was kind of in the middle, leaning more toward positive.
I really like some of the things that this book focuses on. There’s growing up and moving out of the family home, the place you grew up in and have memories of, the place that’s now going to play host to new memories of strangers. There’s relationship drama, both on the part of the main character, her mother, and other secondary characters. There are adorable dogs! There’s a ton about dogs, from facts to thoughts to simple observations, which all make for an interesting story.
Now for the things that kept me from loving this book. First and foremost, the characters. Some of the characters just didn’t seem to really get a chance to become people. The fiancé, Dan Jax, was continually referred to as “Dan Jax,” not just “Dan.” I don’t know why, but that really bothered me. I understand using the last name when introducing a character, but he was a big enough character that I know his last name and don’t need to be reminded every time he speaks or does something. And his daughters never really move beyond stereotypical girls who don’t want to give up their dad or let these new people into their lives. They’re shallow, both as characters and as part of their personality. One of the sisters manages to grow somewhat as a character, but main character Cricket never seems to actually acknowledge that.
There was also this big deal about whether Cricket’s grandfather is gay. I can understand that the idea would be a bit unusual, but they made a big deal out of it, which seemed to be saying that him being gay would be a big scandal, a possibly negative one. That just rubbed me slightly the wrong way.
Some of the chapters consisted of letters written by Cricket to her ex-boyfriend (well, boyfriend-but-currently-on-a-break – a bit complicated), and it originally confused me because I had trouble figuring out if she was writing them in real time and if they were even real, let alone what her current status with her boyfriend actually was. Also, I could have done with a slightly earlier ending – I kind of saw one of the final events coming, but I had hoped that the book would end before it actually happened. I won’t say what it is, but you can probably figure it out after reading it.
So, it might see like I wasn’t that big a fan of this book, but in the end it was really a fairly enjoyable book for me. Not the best Caletti book I’ve read, but certainly a nice way to spend a few days reading.