“The funny thing about beauty, James writes, is that in no way does its presence negate the truth of suffering, of injustice, of pain, but it does stand stalwart in its own right, as its own truth.”
Ava Dellaira did it again for me and I might have to call her one of my favorites authors now because I thought there was no way she could make me this sad after I’ve read Love Letters to the Dead. I knew what to expect. I was coming in prepared, but somehow she still managed to break my heart. HOW? Just how?
Trigger warnings : violence, drug use, mentions of sexual assault.
This book is gorgeous inside and out, it’s amazing and the subject is incredible. I loved how it switches perspectives from Angie and her mother, Marilyn, their stories are obviously intertwined and you get to see them in their own journeys of self-discovery at 17-18 years old when they are both trying to know themselves better and understand what they truly need.
I have to say that I enjoyed Marilyn’s story a little bit more and her personality as well. While I could understand Angie’s reason for being selfish, I thought she mistreated Sam a great deal and their love story ended up being kind of meh to me. It wasn’t realistic in the end and I felt like they might have been better off as friends. But that wasn’t a big part of the book, so moving on.
Angie goes on a road trip with Sam to discover what happened with her father, how he ended up dead or if he’s still alive considering her mother lied to her about her uncle being dead as well (while he’s pretty much alive in Los Angeles). While we see Angie visiting Los Angeles for the first time and experiencing things that she never could before because Marilyn had always been rather protective of her, we also get to see Marilyn’s part of the story. We see teenager!Marilyn moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting/modelling career, which is more her mother’s dream rather than hers, we see her struggling with being a good daughter and not disappointing her mother, but also fulfilling her dreams.
The most central part of the story is Angie’s parents, James and Marilyn’s love story. Something that was vibrant and really touching. I enjoyed reading about them slowly falling in love with one another and I thought their romance was very well developed. I loved their dates, the way they shared mix-tapes and their interactions with Justin, James’ brother. They were so cute.
Also, I want to mention that James and Justin are black and Angie is mix-raced. I loved how Dellaira included racism, but in a very subtle way. It’s not central, it’s just something she brushes upon. I really liked it, now I’m not black, so I can’t really talk about rep or anything like that. But to me, it didn’t seem offensive or anything like that.
My only real complaint is that we didn’t see enough of Angie and Marilyn together, I would have loved to see more flashbacks because they are the main characters and we get to see their stories, but they are a bit disconnected one from another.
I loved the writing, but that was kind of expected. I loved how passionate each character was, Dellaira creates very compelling characters that are very passionate about their hobbies. For example, in this one, Marilyn is very enthusiastic about photography and you can just feel her love for taking pictures, it’s very relatable. Also, Angie has this kind of strange interest of searching up how many people are currently living in our world, but I could feel her “if there are so many people alive right now, how can you matter when you’re such a little part of this world?” debate.
I would really recommend this book to you if you’re looking for a contemporary that focuses on learning more about yourself, about your meaning in this world, on family and love and loss.
I want to thank Hot Key Books for sending me this physical copy of In Search of Us, this hadn’t affected my review, nor my rating in any way.
Have you read this book or anything by Ava Dellaira?
Do you like reading books that are set in different timelines?