A successful single gal finds fulfillment and love only after she stops blaming herself for her twin brother’s autism.
Chick lit meets family melodrama in this debut from the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Kids. Even at the age of eight, Bella, funny, bright and obsessed with brides, is torn between duty and dreams. While her wish is to grow up and have her own wedding, she is haunted by a deep desire to “cure” her brother Bobby, who suffers from behavioral problems and seizures that are later determined to be the effects of Asperger’s Syndrome. In years to come, as Bobby struggles with shock treatments and institutionalization, Bella grows up to discover men, a humorous and heartbreaking succession of Mr. Wrongs. These range from the smooth-talking high-school stud who takes her virginity, to a soulful British artist who sketches her during a college semester at Oxford, to a charming alcoholic she is unable to change. Bella goes on to excel as a New York celebrity-magazine writer and even receives a pep talk from an iconic Oprah Winfrey, who urges the young journalist to let her “bright light” shine. But happiness eludes her, and after suffering on and off from depression, she learns that the only way she can hope for a lasting relationship is by reconciling herself to the feelings of guilt over the limited life of Bobby, who will always be the other man in her life. A collection of odd ticks and obsessions, Bobby expresses his feelings by mimicking cartoon voices, and prefers to eat his spaghetti with tweezers. He is a more interesting character than most of Bella’s suitors, and in spite of his inability to communicate in a traditional way with his own twin, it is he who ultimately teaches her about the complex nature of love.
Bellows’s weight-obsessed heroine, whose lousy luck with men is somewhat balanced by her killer taste in shoes, will seem overly familiar.