Love Is – By Tia Kelly

Rating:

*Note : I won a signed paperback of this book in a blog tour giveaway*

Buy Links:

Amazon            Barnes & Noble

Summary (Goodreads):

It took a once-in-a-lifetime bond to teach her what love is, and a once-in-a-lifetime betrayal to show her what love is not… Love Is. A different kind of love story.

Diane Collins had big plans for her life, and hoops star Warren Scott was not among them. He doesn’t want to be the face of the NBA, and she doesn’t care that he is. His reluctance to be part of the limelight disarms her and the two embark on an unlikely friendship that becomes an even unlikelier romance.

Soon, his life is her life – filled with VIP treatment, parties and luxuries beyond Diane’s wildest imagination. But Warren is harboring a secret, and once it’s revealed Diane’s decision to stay or go could change the very fabric of who she thought she was.

My Review:

Set in the 80’s and spanning over a decade, Love Is is the story of Diane Collins, a girl with big dreams and ambitions for her career – a burning desire to earn her spot in the NASA space mission. But an airport encounter with the famous NBA athlete Warren Scott changes everything that she had planned for herself. They become close friends and soon she is travelling all over the country to his matches and attending parties. A year later, Diane is fed up playing friends and asks for something more – commitment and acknowledgement that their relationship isn’t platonic anymore. Does Warren step up?

Despite its languid pace in the first 100-150 pages, you do get a sense that Diane’s story is worth sticking around for. There is something very “slice-of-life” about this book, made up of everyday conversations, travels and occasions and not moments of high melodrama. Even during the times when Warren and Diane had huge fights and meltdowns, there was something understated in the way they were written. Warren turns from someone who is shown conflicted and flawed into someone who is an absolute jerk by the end of the book. I guess the only redeemable thing about him was he did his bit to support Diane financially.

Diane did a lot of things which I hate about the “strong female protagonist” in books and which I equate to stupidity, because I feel that the onus is on the author to make us empathize with their decisions and provide a clear insight into their “emotional rationale” when they do make those decisions. A lot of times that doesn’t happen and I get the feeling that we readers are somehow just expected to feel sorry for them because hey, WOMEN and SITUATIONS and PROBLEMS and LIFE.

But, that didn’t happen here. The author wrote Diane in a way that I could understand her, feel for her. Yea sure, there were times I wanted jump into the book and shake her into her senses, but I could fathom where she was coming from. I could see the long distance one has to travel between resolving to get back your life on track and actually getting there. Especially when you have had so many setbacks and lost so much time over a guy who just wasn’t worth it. And when you don’t have a strong family support system. (Gosh, her parents were a piece of work!  But I am guessing such parents are not that far removed from reality, considering the timeframe the book was set in, and her upbringing)

Life finally showed Diane what love is and what isn’t but she lost quite a bit in the process. But, she also rediscovers herself, a part of who she had lost waiting for a mirage. I had mixed feelings about some of the events in the end – it goes from a pointless tragedy to a bittersweet realization on Diane’s part about her defunct association with Warren.

“Now knowing what love was, how could she ever accept anything less?”

There were some socio-economic and religious beliefs and gender and race issues that were referred to, and I liked that they were not addressed in a heavy-handed or preachy way. As the book was set in the U.S. of the 80’s, a lot of the cultural references were lost on me and all the NBA talk went over my head. I honestly found it a bit difficult to get past at least 1/3rd of the pages because of all the info-dump related to NBA games, frequent travels, and weather research and space missions. I guess people who are more clued into the 80’s sports and entertainment scene in U.S. will enjoy and appreciate some aspects of this book a lot more. Do watch out for all the chapter titles! (I just reckoned they had to mean something so I googled them after I finished the book)

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