Rating – 3.75 out of 5
As Violet Parry goes through life, there seems to be something missing. She is accomplished at making things run smoothly but is lacking the excitement she craves in her personal life. When she runs into Teddy Reyes, all of that changes. Having been nocked from her routine, her life, and the lives of her family, especially that of her sister-in-law Sally, begins to spin out of control. She tries to pick up the pieces but it is obvious that she needs Teddy to find her way back to herself. This One is Mine is a novel for a woman trying to find herself, and sometimes pick up the pieces of who she is.
“I give you this gift. Come closer. All I have to give is this and I give it to you.”
– This One is Mine, pg. 289
Why I liked This One is Mine by Maria Semple
I am not honestly sure if I did like this book. As Maria Semple’s first novel, I found the quality and insightfulness of the writing up to par, but the story did not draw me in. The humor and wit was not as sharp as in her other novels. I was also unsatisfied with the ending. I felt that after the spectacular melt down that happens towards the end of the novel (don’t worry I won’t spoil that at least! 🙂 ) that there should have been more closure. The book mostly just ends with all of the characters more or less where they began with not much self-reflection nor growth.
The characters themselves are what did me in for this novel. While I usually like flawed characters (see any of these reviews 🙂 ) these ones did not resonate with me. I am fascinated by how other people’s experiences contribute to their neuroses, but that did not seem present in This One is Mine, at least in Violet Parry. Parry is the stereotypical rich woman who can pay to have her problems go away. If I had written the novel I would have focused more on Sally Parry, Violet’s sister-in-law. Where Violet’s life is never really changed throughout the novel, Sally’s is. She also has problems that are real and unfixable, like chronic illness which brings her self-destructive behavior into focus.
Mostly I was just looking for some real stakes in why we should care about these character’s problems. These people, Violet especially, is a rich woman without many problems, not of her own making. Sally especially consciously makes decisions that would be ill advised if she had asked for any advice. But I assume that’s was part of the conclusion we were to come to, that we might think that we should throw caution to the wind, but we should always ask for help and advice when we need it.
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