. Athena's Books: All We Know of Love... is Pain Sometimes
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All We Know of Love... is Pain Sometimes

All We Know of Love by Nora Raleigh Baskins is an episodic novel that follows Natalie Gordon's quest to meet her mother after an absense of four years. Natalie recounts how her mother practiced leaving her before she really left her behind to live only with her father. As she travels by bus to her mother's home in Florida, Natalie meets several people with whom she is able to connec, if only for a brief moment, and it is through these other characters that the author is able to bring forth the idea that all people have searched for love, been hurt by love, or have dealt with the consequences of love. The author leaves Natalie's narrative to provide the reader with brief, personal episodes of the parallel experiences shared by these other characters. The interesting thing is that only the reader sees these stories, as they are not stories shared in dialogue with Natalie.
Another wonderful thing about this novel is how Natalie is very truthful about her experiences and her uncertainties. In her search for answers from an absent mother, Natalie falls in love with someone who needs her physically but who can not give her the love she is seeking, and it is these scenes that shape the book for a slightly older teen. What Natalie reveals is freightening for parents--teens can easily become entangled in emotional relationships in order to feel needed and loved.
Overall, this is a really good read, and I would have given it a five; however, I'm a romantic at heart and for a book to be a five, I really want to see the "love story." Not that there isn't one here, and actually the ending is really just a new love story.