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The Lovers by Vendela Vida

Image of The Lovers: A Novel
  Like all children, my younger sister went through a phase where she would dress herself, sometimes preparing for kindergarten by putting on green leggings, a red skirt, and a soccer jersey.

My sister made bold fashion choices that didn’t always work. The Lovers: A Novel is the literary version of this ensemble.

Vendela Vida is a beautiful writer, so there are high points in this book, which chronicles widow Yvonne after the death of her husband. Yvonne has gone to Turkey, the site of her honeymoon, to find herself. As Casey once said, “People who go abroad to find themselves usually end up more lost than when they started.” So it’s no surprise when Yvonne is let down by the litter of Datca and instead spends her days in Knidos, befriending a local boy and musing on her family and life. Vida captures the uneasiness of being an American in Turkey, with Yvonne desperate to fit in and always coming up short, whether it’s mistaking someone promoting their charter business as an offer or friendship or trying to remember which old woman she bought almonds from the day before. There are brilliant choices in dialogue: when Yvonne discusses her marriage with a new friend, you think she’s going to talk about having an affair, and the story instead veers into the utterly mundane and yet infinitely more relatable.

The book meanders, and while I wasn’t solidly into it at the halfway point, there’s something to be said for a book that is more character than plot-driven, and it’s a welcome relief from the bang-slam-pow of say, I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, Book 1) . But then The Lovers: A Novel veers into the bizarre, and totally lost me.

In the end, I believe there’s a lot that Vida wanted to say about grief, parenthood, tourism and even love. But whatever that message was, all I saw was the clashing outfit and think “yeah, I don’t know what happened there.”