Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Could Have Been Our Song: A coulda woulda shoulda ballad... by Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba


Disclaimer: I know the author, but I am not receiving anything in exchange for this honest review

This novel made me wish I could live in Toronto, dance, produce music, play guitar and bake mouth-watering pastries in under an hour while surrounded by the coolest multi-ethnic cast I have ever read about. In other words, Lucia Mpobo-Riddell is my newest hero.

When we meet Lucia- Luce/Lucita/Lulu- she’s just embarked on what’s going to be a stormy relationship with London-based producer Marcus Grant. Taken together, they’re an interesting study in human potential: Lucia lost both of her parents when she was very young, but she’s taken her grief and channeled it into all of her creative outlets. Marcus, born with an equal amount of talent but blessed with loving parents, has achieved respect in his chosen profession but is still thisclose to being great. The reader quickly understands that it’s Marcus who can’t get out of his own way, but like Lucia- and his family and friends- we’re rooting for him to do the right thing.

Like Lucia’s sisters, I alternated between wanting to punch Marcus, wanting him to make Lucia happy, and wanting him to walk away because he just wasn’t good enough and he’d had his chance. Just when those feelings peaked, in walked the equally compelling (and more accomplished) Greg McMullen. He’s “all that”, and he treats Lucia like gold. But even though I’m squarely on Team Greg, I can understand why Lucia still isn’t entirely done with Marcus. (But here’s hoping she comes to her senses in the sequel!)

As much as I enjoyed Lucia, Marcus and Greg, I also appreciated the large supporting cast, particularly the close knit family members that are like best friends and the best friends who are so close that they're like family. But not everyone is milk and honey: the sins of Lucia's mother and grandmother loom large over the lives of their family members, and it's heartbreaking how much Lucia and especially her sister Noor still pine for their parents' love. While the tone of the novel is mostly adventurous and fun, these reminders ground the piece.

Plenty of humor here, but the funniest line is “I’m taller, my eyes are green and I too speak fluent Korean.” So take that!

Highly recommended.