Is the key to your future in your past?
On my mission to blog the three books that Lisa M. gave to me, I completed Free Style tonight. Linda Neives-Powell creates a heroine, Idalis, who most struggling and newly-single/divorced moms can relate to. Like Idalis, I am now in my 30’s and, in my youth, hit the dance club scenes with my girlfriends and danced with all the hottest guys. Oh, the fantasies that accompanied those nights and those men! It was a time of reckless abandon and freedom that I did not fully realize as such at the time, but rarely miss now.
The story depicts the maturing life of Idalis, a latina from New York, and includes the parallel voyage of her best friend, Selenis. The story touches on many aspects of a failed marriage, one that was set out with the hopes and ideals of all young couples… love is all it takes to make a marriage work. Not so. As Idalis and her husband, Manny, decipher whether or not they want to reconcile, date others, or divorce, you see them both experiencing all phases of separation, but never at the same time and to the same extents. For me, it felt as if they were both tethered to one another via their son and those vows of the life that they thought was to sustain them through it all. Not the case.
In her separation from Manny, Idalis is able to achieve the ability to relinquish some of her control issues and give herself permission to live a life based on her truth. In my opinion, she sheds her continuance of living her life out of obligation and reaches towards living the life that maybe, just is… and that life may be happier than one of any other kind. At times, I pull for Idalis to speak her mind and break the walls built by insecurity for the sake of her safety at a faster pace than she did. But, in the end, Idalis gets there and reminds me that ability is in each one of us.
I enjoyed Selenis’ journey to back to happiness within her marriage. It was nice to relate to their “best-friend” (aka – “I know you!”) banter. I believe Idalis and Selenis both learned that going back to unrealized fantasies were not to result in a renewed sense of true inner-happiness; rather, more like a “quick fix” or a band-aid. When Idalis and Selenis went back to their old stomping ground, Club 90, and released their inhibitions, they each discovered something new about themselves or their marriages. I believe that Idalis was reminded that the “what if”s” should remain in the past and that she needed to stop lingering in or holding onto those old fantasies. Selenis, on the other hand, lost herself in those feelings in the past and didn’t restrain herself from cheating on her husband as a way to retaliate against him. Now, I did have difficulty finding that their old stomping grounds and old loves would be so easily accessed, and felt that component of the story a bit too unbelievable. In actuality, most of us don’t run into that past love and have the opportunity to be faced with either the realization that it was a fantasy type of love or was something real that needs to be explored. I believe that both women procrastinated in facing the complications in their marriages, hence diligently holding back only their internal growth. Watching them overcome that was a positive component of the story.
I enjoyed the character of Idalis’ mother, especially with her very true-to-life comment: “You are going to get divorced after all that money you spent on the wedding and esa comida? Now you have to stay married because that would be too much money to throw away.” It sounds like something I would hear my own mother say.
In thinking about it, I suppose that you can choose a life of unparalleled freedom in which you elect not to marry and make babies; in such case you would be free to live your life “free style” a bit easier than the rest of us. There are trade-offs and sacrifices that mothers (and fathers) have to make every day to ensure the stability of their children. Personally, I kept thinking at the end of the story that Idalis’ career choice was not the responsible one… how could anyone live off of $30K per year? I think the offered corporate job would have given Idalis the opportunity to send Junito to college and get him the counseling that it sounded like he needed.
I found this story to be overall enjoyable, but a very light read. It was a story that I could relate to, but kept picturing it as another Jennifer Lopez movie. I would have enjoyed Nieves-Powell incorporating more of the latin culture into the story… going a bit more in depth to what in their culture had these women in such a place of powerlessness. The tale was, for me, predictable, but that also gave it an ease in reading for me… I knew that Idalis would get there somehow. I was disappointed that more time was not spent in delving into Selenis’ cancer, because that would have given this story more “meat.” I also think that bring Manny’s perspective on the divorce and relationship would have enriched the story (and, for that matter, Ralphie’s too). The “Thelma and Louise” references I could have definitely done without and I disagree with Jennifer Coburn’s cover on the front cover.
On Sheri’s “Out of Ten” rating system, I would give this one a six. It’s an easy, beach or vacation read (for women)… and if something light and fun.
Buy Book at Amazon.Com: Free Style