on February 6, 2013
Listina Bello has been on a perpetual search for happiness ever since she graduated from high school ten years ago. Legal assistant by day and partier by night, Listina thinks she is functioning perfectly fine. She drinks a bottle of Pinot every night, but still manages to keep her dead-end job, her Manhattan apartment, and her social life. Unfortunately, she could not be more wrong.
With a bottle of wine as her companion, Listina trolls Facebook one night, finally landing on a photo she thought she blocked. As she stares at the old yearbook picture of the smiling girls who relentlessly bullied her back in high school, she suddenly realizes she has been suppressing her emotions for years and hiding behind a myriad of distractions, hoping to numb, or even kill, her feelings altogether. With no other way out but up, Listina relies on old diary entries to dig deep inside herself, return mentally to her seemingly perfect hometown, and finally face her harsh label, relive the taunts, and experience the heartache all over again.
In this poignant novel, a young woman torn between her past and her future must finally shake the identity she was unfairly given in order to begin to find her own.
We were provided with an ebook by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Listina Bello is adrift in her life, both the respectable hours she spends in an office during the day, and the alcohol saturated razor’s edge that she walks by night. I am obsessively drawn to dysfunctional characters, even ones I dislike. I have a driven, subconscious need to know how they came to be this way. Reading Living in Dog Years by E. Bell was like a skid row addict getting a visit from the crack rock fairy! It was brutally beautiful and real, and in the words of my friend Tom Petty, “I was free, free fallin’.”
One of my favorite things about the book, is that initially, you don’t care for her very much. Which for me, is like blood in the shark tank. There were moments that I wanted to throw the book against the wall, and yank out tufts of air at Listina’s blatant self destruction. So it’s a good thing that I was reading it as an eBook and look horrid with short hair. 😉 Over the course of the novel, we learn exactly why she is in the position she is currently in, and seemingly unable to rise above. My second favorite thing: this book is real, and often hard, but gives a very honest look into the world of bullying. There were instances of grammatical errors in the novel, but I feel they are far outweighed by the sprinkles of dry humor, realistic moments of ridiculousness, and the sheer gravity of the story. It is permeated with relevance to the social media cloaked world that we live in.
So come along on this difficult trek through the life of Listina Bello. She may not have won you over by the end, but by God, you respect her journey. Don’t worry. I have every confidence that she will worm her way into your heart.
4 out of 5 stars.