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The Careful Undressing of Love

Review

The Careful Undressing of Love

From the author of the OCD LOVE STORY and many other YA and middle grade novels, comes a lyrical novel about friendship, family and toxic love.

Everyone in Brooklyn knows that the Devonairre Street girls are different. They wear their hair long with keys around their necks and have a particular affinity for lavender tea and lemons. The Devonairre Street girls are also cursed, so any man they fall in love will be doomed to die. Lorna Ryder is one of these girls, but she has never truly believed in the curse, even though her own father was killed was five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. But then her best friend’s boyfriend, Jack, is killed crossing the street after a night of drinking. Suddenly, everything Lorna thought she believed in has flown out the window, and she is forced to face the Curse that has always been there, waiting for her to acknowledge the truth.

Told in the years following a similar but alternate history, the tale of the Devonairre girls is not one for the faint of heart.

"I am still reeling from THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE….a beautifully written but achingly heart-wrenching novel about four girls who are not allowed follow their hearts."

Starting right from the first page, this book had me instantly intrigued. The first chapter reveals the Minute of Silence the city of New York has every Tuesday at 10:11 AM for those who were killed in the bombing. This was such an interesting and haunting way to start this novel, and I loved it. It was amazing to read a novel from the perspective of someone who lost someone in the bombing. I felt like I could really feel and relate to Lorna and her mother’s pain, still fresh even after five years had passed.

THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE was not what I expected going into it. I expected a light, magical realism story about a love curse that the main character overcomes because her love is more important than anyone else’s. Disclaimer: I am so happy that this is not what the novel was. THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE had layers upon layers of meaning. There were family, friend, community and, of course, love elements. It balanced the pain they still felt from the bombing against the pain of being told not to love against family and community expectations and did it beautifully.

Overall, the characters delighted me. Lorna was our headstrong main character who refused to believe in the curse, but I think she really refused to believe that she could never feel the happiness and joy of falling in love. I also particularly enjoyed Isla, because she did whatever she wanted and wore whatever she wanted. I also grew to like Charlotte, but only after her --- no spoilers --- twist. The only character I did not like was Angelika. Even though she was the “voice of reason,” I, like Lorna and the other characters, cast her aside because we did not want to believe the Curse was real.

If you cannot tell, I am still reeling from THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE, and I cannot seem to get my thoughts in order. I expected the ending, though I did not want it to end that way. I believe the one aspect that is stuck in my head is imagining being told that you could never love anyone. Ever. You could never feel that bliss, joy and sometimes frustration. Love is such a big part of the human experience, and I feel so terribly for these characters, who all seemed like real people to me.

THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE is a beautifully written but achingly heart-wrenching novel about four girls who are not allowed follow their hearts. I recommend this for anyone who liked THE STRANGE & BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER for the lyrical prose and magical realism elements. Even though I still cannot get my thoughts in order, I know I will be thinking about this novel for a very long time. I cannot wait to see what Haydu writes next.

Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on January 31, 2017

The Careful Undressing of Love
by Corey Ann Haydu

  • Publication Date: January 31, 2017
  • Genres: Family, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0399186735
  • ISBN-13: 9780399186738