This One Is Mine
It took me a few days and about 100 pages to feel compelled to read This One Is Mine. Finally, I reached the point when the story could have gone in several directions and I was persuaded to turn each page with anticipation and wondering what would happen next. The story follows the lives of a handful of characters living in Los Angeles and enmeshed in its wealth and superficial façade. Violet Parry is struggling to find something in her life that makes her feel alive again. She has been married to a successful music producer for years and increasingly she feels he doesn’t hear or care to know her anymore. This is amplified by the fact that she hasn’t worked since her young daughter was born and isn’t sure about her identity. Bringing more confusion is Teddy Reyes, a bass player with a completely different life path. He awakens questions and lust within her that she must navigate throughout the book. The other main character is Violet’s sister-in-law, Sally. Sally set her sights on an upcoming sports television personality. She believes if she gets him to marry her before his success explodes, it will secure her status and eventually allow her to live the life she wants. Of course, not thinking this plan completely through proves to be a bad move and the situation ends up more complicated than she could have imagined. There are also some points when the book turns to the point of view of other characters, such as Violet’s husband David or Sally’s ex-boyfriend Kurt. Though it was helpful to see their perspective, the constant switching of first person narratives was a little jarring. Violet’s husband David turned out to be one of the most complex characters. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to comfort him or hate him. He loved Violet, but didn’t always treat her well. He seemed to grow the most from his experiences and for that I ended up respecting his character. I believe the book was meant to be a bit of a satire of the poor little rich girl, but I don’t feel it questioned the overly consumer lifestyle of the main characters. Violet consumes without question until she meet Teddy, who happens to be a former junkie that can’t afford to get his car fixed. I appreciate that he isn’t depicted as a stereotypical drug user; the fact that he is an excellent golfer is one thing that helped add depth to his character. This is Maria Semple’s first novel and it has many strengths. The writing and descriptions are compelling and the dialogue doesn’t seem forced. It’s a good start to Semple’s novel writing career, but it isn’t a book I will be fiercely passing around my circle of friends.