The Careful Undressing of Love

careful

The Careful Undressing of Love

by Corey Ann Haydu

Genre: Magical Realism

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb

Review

Are the women on Debovairre Street cursed?  According to the wise old Angelika, any woman who falls in love on this fated Brooklyn street is destined to lose her lover to death.

Undressing is set in 2008 post 9/11 where the women on this particular street are Affected or have lost a man in the terrorist attacks, to cancer, and other varied circumstances.  This story is about LornaCruzCharlotteDelilahIsla with Lorna as the main character.  According to Lorna these girls, minus Cruz because he’s a boy, are special not just because of their address but because of their long hair.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Most of the girls think the curse is stupid and they just go along with it to amuse their old neighbor but after some strange events, some of them start to believe.

This is a semi-unique take on love.  I say semi because this is not a new concept but the setting makes it special.  Brooklyn and this street are also characters.  The women on this street have customs and traditions and they help each other.  Although this is the sixth book I’ve read about Brooklyn and their bodegas, I can’t say it’s getting old yet.  Besides the setting, I didn’t feel as if Haydu was adding anything new too the conversation about love.

As stated above, these girls are special because of their long hair.  They travel in a pact indicated by their mashed names and everyone stares.  They probably stare because men can are gross and ogle women with no shame-that doesn’t make you special.  At some point, Lorna sounded a bit self centered because every where they went people stared.  I’m assuming the author is saying they caught attention because of their confidence but she didn’t expound on this.

Unfortunately, Undressing was formulaic.  I anticipated every turn.

The characters were underdeveloped.  Lorna was the main character and she was flat.  She was mopey most of the time.  Her best friend, Delilah, was only interesting because she was Black with an afro and dated a wealthy white guy.  Isla was in the novel to make a point and I’ll explain below. Charlotte and Cruz were not special.  The only round character was Angelika, the wise old Russian lady.

Undressing had a lot to say about teen girls and love.  The older ladies on the block didn’t like the way they dressed and their cavalier attitude about sex.  Isla was the youngest but she also dressed provocatively and danced on the subway pole while men leered and women scoffed.  This is why I felt Isla was just used to make a point and she didn’t drive the plot.  I think Haydu’s message was clear and I liked it but it wasn’t enough to save this book.

Haydu is a good writer and this is my first book by her.  The language was beautiful and metaphorical and it’s clear she has a lot to say.  She wrote about an interesting street with diverse characters but Undressing was a bit too didactic, formulaic, and it never seemed to pick up steam.

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