Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
Release date: June 6th 2011.
Paperback, 336 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Liz.
Writing her own love story could drive a girl insane! 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.
Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors was a funny, creative and emotional story, which touched on a range of issues and had the ability to make readers both laugh and cry in the same chapter. The main character, Alice (daughter of Belinda Amorous, “Queen of Romance”), was someone I instantly empathised with – forced to deal with her mother’s severe bipolar disorder, Alice had to do everything herself; pay the bills, do the housework, keep Belinda’s publisher happy all whilst trying to make sure her mother’s mental illness stayed under wraps. It was no easy fate, and unsurprisingly, Alice was under a lot of stress. I really liked Alice because despite all her problems, she tried to stay calm and do everything herself, and even when she thought her worst fear (becoming like her mother) was coming true, she began to realise there was no shame in being who you are, and that hiding it would only lead to more problems.
I also liked Alice because she cracked me up – after Errol, a strange and beautiful boy who claimed to be Cupid, shot her with his arrow, some of the things she did made me laugh so much I almost had tears in my eyes. Then she had a tantrum after she realised what had happened - I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a long time. She had a knack for coming up with some witty lines, most of which were aimed at Errol, who did not seem to appreciate her humour at all (which just made it even funnier). Errol himself was an intriguing character. At first I couldn’t decide whether I liked him or not; he was demanding and abrupt, but he was also very funny, especially when trying to convince Alice to write the tragic story of his relationship with Psyche. He grew on me, though, and by the end, he’d become my favourite character in the book. I loved all the interaction between Errol and Alice, and his story about his life with Psyche was so compelling that I felt just as frustrated as Alice when he refused to tell anymore. Having his story written was so important to Errol because it was his way of repenting for some of the things he had done in the past, and his desperation to do it all before it was too late made Alice understand that the life she had been living really was no life at all – she had experienced nothing in comparison to Errol, and I think it was this that spurred a change in her.
Tony, resident skater boy vying for Alice’s attentions, was another character I liked, because he seemed like a sweet and easy-going kind of guy, but I felt his character was a little underdeveloped, and I wished we could have found out a bit more about him. Though the novel was essentially about Errol’s love story, I enjoyed the sub-plot involving the relationship between Alice and Tony, and I also loved the side-story about Archibald, a man who lived in Alice’s building who seemed like such a charming, kind person, not to mention quite hilarious (I laughed out loud at his comment about Alice’s lovely wall scribblings). I liked Alice’s guardians, Reverend Ruttle and Mrs Bobot, too, but again wished their characters could have been a bit more developed.
Overall, Mad Love was a brilliant read, and I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I think one of the main messages of the story was to discover yourself and be proud of who you are, which is something Alice learned by the end. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys retellings of love stories, or anyone interested in characters with metal health issues and how this affects the people around them.