Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Embracing Me, Embracing you

Before I share with you my review for this book, let me explain the initial burst of interest I found in the title, Embracing Me, Embracing You--before I even knew what it was about. I was intrigued by an apparent similarity between this title and an idea I explored, with great curiosity, in my book Apart From Love. And this is it: The new lover embraces his partner, who in turn embraces the shadow of his love for someone who can no longer be here. In the words of Anita, the female protagonist in my story:

"So I take a step closer to Lenny, and this time I don’t allow myself to be stopped—not by him, not by that shadow, and not by nothing else I’ve seen in my head, just now. And I brush my lips over his hair, and spread my arms real wide, hugging her hugging him." 


Michelle Bellon, the author of Embracing Me, Embracing You, sweeps you into the story right from the start, bringing the angst and excitement of a coming-of-age story to life by making you intimately engaged with her character Roshell, whose voice is punctuated, here and there, with the voices of the her teenage friends: Amber, Sabrina, Tim, the new, mysterious guy in her life, Gabriel, Nico, and others. You are there to hear all of them, as if you were an invisible confidante, leaning in to hear one character, then another, so that you can hear Roshell's inner thoughts and also the way others see her.

Resonating with great conviction, Roshell's voice has a personal, truly autobiographic feel to it, imbued with intelligence and humor. She lives with her mom and grandma in a trailer park, which to her is a wasteland, a symbol of being poor and despondent. Her dream is to become a prima ballerina. She makes her entrance into the story spraying her hair, teasing and curling it to shape it in stiff, vertical bangs, then dancing at a party with such flair as to embarrass herself publicly by splitting the seam of her jeans. So endearing! So is her conversation with Amber, sharing the little she knows about French kissing. In her mind, it is kind of slobbery and awkward at first until your body takes over.

During prom night Roshell finds herself uncharacteristically tongue-tied in Gabriel's presence, and not only because he is her best friend's date. Part of her brain keeps encouraging her to come up with something witty, or smart, or just anything that resembles words, but instead she just stares. We can hear her heart fluttering under the spell of first love, yearning for giving herself completely to him. It is because of him that she frees herself from the prison of loneliness, only to face a great loss, from which she has to recover so it does not consume her.

Michelle Bellon is a talented writer with prolific interests, from coming-of-age stories to military was experiences, all of which express themselves in her writing. She has written four books: His Salvation, and The Complexity of a Soldier, which received 5-star reviews from Amazon Top Reviewers. 

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