Sunday, August 16, 2015

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius // In which Sophia rants about romance

 Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

This book had such a cute premise. It had such an adorable cast of characters. It was set up to be sweet and squeeable and heart-meltable.

And, in parts, it was all those things. But it had the potential to be so much better.

Why didn't I like it as much as I hoped I would?

Let me just say, as an initial disclaimer, I'm not one for romance being the central plot. But this one (even though it's marketed as YA, and the characters are 15) seemed a little MG to me, so I thought it would be cute. I'm always up for some heartfelt MG cuteness. 

So my issue wasn't with the romances themselves. It was more with how the book seemed to always be pushing romantic love and finding-your-soulmate as the most important thing in life. I vehemently do NOT agree with this at all. However, at first, I was forgiving with the constant mention (by parents, teachers, students, everyone in the town of Grimbaud) of, "You're going to finally find happiness when you find your other half." 

Then we met the spinsters and bachelors and the people who hadn't found love in "right" way. In these characters, I was expecting to meet people who defied the stereotypes that the town put on them as cat ladies and sloppy bachelors who lived to be lonely and occupy their time with trivialities until they die. BUT THEY DIDN'T. They fit these stereotypes perfectly. And everyone seems to think that singleness is some kind of disease?

Seriously? And the townspeople's problematic view is never corrected?

There is one character who, after getting her love fortune that tells her that she will never find love, decides to enjoy herself and travel through all of Europe. Yay! I thought, Good for you! She's an educated woman (a librarian), who actually takes matters into her own hands. But then does she finally see life as larger than herself, enrich her soul with the art and culture of the world, and finally find fulfillment? No. She returns to her teensy town of Grimbaud, depressed that she hasn't found her "soulmate," and joins the rest of the spinsters in their Spinster Homes, reading romance novels in order to satisfy her ever present craving for a significant other. 

Guys, sexual and romantic love is a beautiful thing, but it's not the end-all-be-all. Your life will not end if you do not get married. Find fulfillment in yourself, and if a soulmate comes along, then, that's super exciting! But don't live your life (like the characters in Grimbaud do) with the expectation that all your problems will be solved once you meet the perfect partner. Cuz they won't. (Surprise!)

And when they finally addressed the excellence of friendship, they didn't give it full credit, in my opinion. 

Excuse me, friendship is a kind of love, and can be just as strong - or stronger - than romantic love.

I was hoping (after a while, in vain) that Fallon, our main character, would defy her "no love for you" fortune by running with it, and becoming happy and successful and fulfilled WITHOUT a boyfriend/husband. What a triumph over the love fortunes THAT would be! In your face, Zita! But no. I don't think it's spoilery to say that by the end of the book there were four neat little couples wrapped up neatly in a bow, as expected. 

But there were parts about the book that I DID LIKE:

~ Fallon, our protagonist was hilarious and book loving and kinda OCD about housekeeping and knows her mind and is a top notch student. So much love to her!

~ Nico, Fallon's friend was adorable and I would totally ship them if he weren't the "gay best friend." Actually, all the characters were top notch and I loved them all! (Or hated them, as required.)

~The descriptions of the town is super cute and I would love to visit. (Though I'd never live there haha.)  Though I don't understand why they'd need love charms normally (like, when Zita wasn't there) since love is magical in itself?

~ The cover is THE MOST CUTE THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. Just look at it. Squeeeee!

Anyway, this book is definitely adorable, and perhaps I was reading into it more that I was supposed to. I just get super strung up whenever anyone says being single is worse than being in a relationship, any relationship. But maybe this book will be better for you! I know lots of people found it fun and cute and there's even a sequel coming out eventually. 

Have you read Love Fortunes and Other Disasters? What did you think? Would you live in a town that valued romantic love above all else?

Thanks to Swoon Reads for the ARC! Love Fortunes and Other Disasters came out May 2015 and I am super late with this review. Whoops. Sorry!


  1. Wow! Although I haven't read the book, reading your review made me wonder that a book like this could really exist; it definitely seems needlessly harsh on anybody who isn't in a conventional romantic relationship.

    I completely understand your disappointment; the premise of this book suggests that it's going to be a satire of the way that our society deals with romantic love, or at the very least that it might explore variations on the theme of 'love' (as you quite rightly pointed out, friendship is a kind of love as much as romantic/sexual love is!).

    I definitely wouldn't want to live in a town like the one described; it seems much too oppressive. Not to mention that with all those lovey-dovey couples around, PDA would be a constant annoyance. :D

    1. I was hoping it would go in a bit of a satire direction, too. Oh well.

      I'm an odd-one-out in that I've never really minded PDA, unless it's totally over the top crazy. But even for me, everyone kissing everywhere all the time would be a bit much. :-P

  2. Wow, what an awful message to send: if you are not in a relationship you can't be happy. Thank you for reading the book so we don't have to!

    1. It had so much potential, too! Oh well. :-/


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