Happy Valentine's Day!! In the spirit of the occasion, I read Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors. Sixteen-year-old Alice Amorous has had a complicated childhood. She's the daughter of the Queen of Romance, Belinda Amorous, who has penned dozens of romance novels. Some might think being the daughter of the Queen of Romance is glamourous. For Alice it's anything but.
Alice has spent her life covering up her mother's mental illness. After all who would want to know that the Queen of Romance is bipolar? Instead Alice devotes her time and energy covering up her mother's wacky behavior. With Belinda holed up in a mental hospital, it is up to Alice to pick up the pieces, paying bills, signing fan letters, making appearances and some how coming up with another novel by the Queen of Romance. In essence, Belinda has become the child and Alice has become the adult. And to top it all off, a mysterious stranger is about throw Alice's life into a tailspin.
What image comes to mind when you think of Cupid? For me it's fat little baby with wings. Selfors changes that image. In this story, Cupid is a teenage boy named Errol. He seeks out Alice's help in writing the story of his life. The story of his love affair with Psyche. Can this be real? When Alice starts to believe in Errol, she questions her own sanity. Is she becoming like her mother? Is she breaking from reality? Before Errol came into her life, the highlight of Alice's day was peeking out the window in her pajamas at the cute guy, Tony, on the skateboard and navigating life with eccentric neighbors, Mrs. Bobot, Realm, the reverend and his gay roommate Archibald. Errol comes to dominate her thoughts. Has Alice been hit by Cupid's arrow? That can't be true?
While Alice chooses not to believe in Errol, she does agree to write his story. After all, Errol says Alice can publish it under her mother's name. But unless Alice gives in and believes that he is Cupid, this collaboration will never work. Alice even doubts herself. If she has never experienced love, how can she write about it? Being the daughter of the Queen of Romance is not enough. She doesn't understand the emotions of love yet.
As a character, Alice is very relatable. Her confusion about life is a universal teenage emotion. Some of the strongest parts of the book are when Alice reflects on her relationship wiith her mother. While sometimes Alice might be embarassed by her, she loves her deeply and will do anything to protect her. She wants Tony to like her, but she doesn't want him to truly see her. What boy would want enter the wackiness that is her life.
Mad Love is a quirky story, with just the right amounts of romance and real-life problems. Lovers of mythology will also love the background information on Cupid. I definitely learned some things.