Release date: 6th June 2011
Genre: young adult/ contemporary fiction/ drama
Target audience: 12+
UK publisher: Bloomsbury
When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother -and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth - that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.
Mad Love is a bitter sweet story about love, family and secrets that hurt, but must be told. When I first picked up this book, I expected a light, sweet read, and while my reading experience was definitely sweet, the novel also explores more difficult themes. The lightness and the heaviness of the story are perfectly balanced.
Teenager Alice Amorous is the daughter of famous and much loved Queen of Romance. In the eyes of the world, she lives a wonderful, ideal life, but the truth is different. In reality, Alice has to wear a heavy burden on her young shoulders. Her mother suffers from a bipolar disorder (she is manic depressive) and Alice has always lived in uncertainty, fearing those periods when her mother would collapse and spent some time away from her daughter in a mental hospital, while Alice was left to fend for herself. Alice was also always afraid of being separated from her mother, so she pretends that everything is perfectly fine. She lies that her mother is writing a new novel, she signs copies for fans, pays the bills and tries to save her mother's career. Only a few close friends in her apartment building know the truth and try to help Alice in any way, but no one can replace the mother Alice misses. Alice even meets a boy she'd like to date, but she avoids him because she doesn't want to drag him into her complicated life.
One day, Alice meets Errol, a boy her age who claims to be Cupid, the God of Love, and who demands that Alice write down the story of his tragic love: the true story of Psyche and Cupid. Alice, believing Errol to be nothing but a disturbed boy, tries to avoid him, but he is determined to make her believe, no matter what it takes, and it is then that strange things begin to happen to Alice. Torn between trusting Errol and believing that she has inherited her mother's illness, Alice is propelled into a chaotic adventure that has everything to do with love.
I truly liked all the characters in this novel, especially Alice, the heroine of her own romantic adventure. Alice is a smart girl who only wants to be normal and live an ordinary life, but instead she has to cope with difficulties of life. What I truly liked was that depression was a topic that was explored throughout the story. It is an illness that affects Alice's life in great measure. She constantly worries about her mom, fears that she might become manic depressive herself and is also - expectedly - angry at life. The story views depression in a healthy way, pointing out that this illness does not mean a person is crazy, but that the sufferers need help and support of those around them. It is also shown that the depressive person's environment suffers too; no one wants to see their loved one so spiritless and sad, and at times they just want it all to stop and for things to return back to normal. Anger is part of the healing process. I think depression is well and fairly explored.
There is also the story of Cupid and Psyche, to which the author added new twists that I enjoyed very much. They endeared Errol to me even more than he already did himself, as well as his need for the truth to be told. The importance of truth is stressed in this story and Alice gradually learns that the truth, as painful as it might be, is always better than hiding and lies, and it can be quite a relief once you're exposed it.
There is one thing that I found the novel was missing. Namely, at one point Alice begins to write her own novel, but her writing process is not given enough attention. As I believe that writing a book is a big step for Alice, as well as a way for her to explore a new side of her, some stress should have been put on the Alice's creative process.
All in all, I can honestly say that this was a highly enjoyable read than turned out to be different from my expectations. I actually think that the cover should be different, as it is a bit deceiving. The story is bitter and it is sweet, but most importantly, love triumphs in the end. I recommend the story to all who believe that to be true.
Becky says: Irena, I can see why you think I’d like this book. I’m a hopeless romantic and if love triumphs in the end then surely I would be a gooey fan of this. It definitely sounds deeper than the cover suggests it to be. Lovely review.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending the book to review.