Title: Mad Love
Author: Suzanne Selfors
Published: 4 January 2011
Length: 336 pages
Warnings: romance, sex references,
Other info: Suzanne Selfors has also written other things like Coffeehouse Angel, Saving Juliet and Smells like Dog.
Summary : When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.
Review: Alice Amorous is living a lie. Her mother Belinda is the bestselling Queen of Romance. But it's been a while since she's published anything, and her crown is slipping. Alice tells the publishers a lot of things. She's overseas. She's doing research. Alice doesn't tell the publishers her mother is in hospital being treated for bipolar disorder, or manic depression. And then the publishers start demanding a story or money, neither of which Belinda can produce. Enter Errol, or Cupid. He wants Alice to write his story. But doesn't she have enough to cope with?
This book handles the subject of mental illness, which is interesting for me because a family friend was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which I never knew much about. Mad Love presents bipolar in delicate, easy to understand way. It mentions both the scientific facts and traits, and also the way it can ruin family life. I liked the way that all this was presented in dribs and drabs, woven into context. If it had been Alice just saying in one block of text "my mother has bipolar disorder. This is what it is and this is what its like.", that would be boring and wouldn't let you properly understand it. Mad Love is useful for those who are being forced to cope with those around them suffering.
In my opinion, the plot is not the most outstanding or intriguing. It takes some getting in to, and isn't the thing I normally read and enjoy. I think that if it was just the mental illness part,being really interesting, as a rule pure family life isn't really my thing and I might not enjoy it quite as much. The fantasy element of Errol aka Cupid was something that you wouldn't expect to see tied up with a serious topic like this, but it worked.
I liked Selfor's take on the tale of Psyche and Eros, which is completely different to the one we're familiar with.
The characters were interesting. Alice has a lot going on in her life, and I liked the fact that she tried to do something to help her mother, even if it was difficult. Each character was different and distinctive, such as the church priest, the older gay flatmate and the girl who is mean at first and turns out ok. Some of the characters were unlikeable at first, but by the end I understood their reasoning and personalities.
It was written from Alice's perspective, which made it easier to understand everything Alice was going through. Although I didn't like the fact that at some point she's basically lying to everyone, I could see why she did it.
This is quite an emotional book. I found myself really hoping everything would turn out ok for Alice and Belinda, cheering for them when it did, and getting sad when various things happened, like the ending.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book that mixes myth and reality in perfect measures.