Mad Love

by Suzanne Selfors
ages: 12+
First sentence: “When you’re sixteen, summer is supposed to spread before you like a magic carpet, waiting to carry you to new, exciting places.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher

From one vantage point, it looks like Alice Amorous has a charmed life: her mother is the Queen of Romance Fiction, she lives in a quaint apartment in the College Hill area of Seattle. It should be good. Except that her mother has been hospitalized for mental illness, and it’s up to Alice to hold down the increasingly shaky fort.

Then she meets Errol, a strange boy (wearing black hoodies in the middle of the Heat Wave of the Century qualifies, I think) who claims he’s Cupid and wants Alice to write his story. Of course she doesn’t believe him: mental illness runs in the family, she must be going mad, right? Which terrifies her.

Much of the book is given over to convincing Alice that Cupid is really who he says he is. There’s some side stories, a distraction in the form of a Cute Skateboarding Guy, and conflicts with Alice’s neighbors as the lies and stories she’s surrounded herself with slowly fall apart. The characters are quirky and interesting and clever, as is the idea of melding mythology with writing romance fiction.

Sure, it gets a bit melodramatic at the end, but I was kept guessing as to where Selfors was going with the book, and delighted that she didn’t go for the easy road out. It’s always nice when a book ends well. I was thinking though, as I finished it, that the book doesn’t really qualify for a romance (though there is one). It’s more about love in general. And the song that went through my head when I finished was this one:

It’s what makes the world go round, after all. And this book is quite full of love.

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