The Careful Undressing of Love

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The Careful Undressing of Love

Author: Corey Ann Haydu

Grade: D

When I read the summary about a group of cursed girls doomed to lose any guy they fall in love with I got some very Practical Magic vibes from it and since that is one of my favorite movies I was like, “Oh, yeah. I must read this!” Unfortunately the only thing I wound up feeling for this book was how much it annoyed me.

First this takes place in an alt-like reality where the big thing to remember is that pretty much the entire country fetishes grief after a bombing that no one ever learned the reasons behind. Lorna and her friends don’t entirely believe in their own curse in the beginning only going through the motions in order to please old Angelika- a sort of grandmother/witch like figure to them. But when they lose someone they love that all changes and some start to believe.

Where to start with this novel? I did like the writing. I’m a sucker for a good curse concept.

I did not like Lorna, who unfortunately, is the narrator. I mean she wasn’t impossible but to sum her up she was one of those people who are with someone they don’t love (understandable under the circumstances) cheat around and then get mad when other people cheat and also when the non-loved significant other has had enough. Also it felt like her response to her friend’s grief was more about what Lorna wasn’t giving or getting out of it.

The curse kind of bugged me. Angelika says it was because they took love for granted. Just the women took love for granted? Because apparently if you’re a boy on this street that’s all fine and dandy (provided you don’t fall in love with one of the cursed girls- then you’re screwed) and if you’re a lesbian- that’s also fine. Also at first I thought okay, it’s just the street but Angelika seemed pretty sure that if Lorna and her mother move away the curse will follow them.

Why? Does the street itself infect you?

I was hoping for more answers which leads to Angelika. I mean at first she comes off like just an old woman that everyone humors. Once she gets her claws into the girls and puts her foot down she starts coming off as almost witch like to me. Actually, that was one part I liked about the book. Is she grief-stricken? Is she behind the curse? But then it starts to turn into harassment and cruelty what she’s doing. I went from thinking okay the girls will break the curse by taking Angelika down to thinking where are any actual adults in this mess.

Well, half of them are dead. The other half? Non-existant. Lorna’s mother is around but there’s a part where Angelika and her cronies literally show up to interrupt a date that she’s on. Furthermore the girl’s fame gets them treated like pariahs at school. Not just by the students either but by the teachers and administration who make them stay in an empty classroom.

Which all this I could have just rolled my eyes and said okay, this books not for me but it all ties together into one perfect storm of an ending that really annoyed me. Spoiler below!

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The book basically comes to a conclusion when the girls get totally blitzed (I don’t even remember how long they were drinking but I think it was more than a day) and stumble and fall their way through crowds of people, who are present to seemingly leech off their strange fame, down the street to a building in which they plan to commit suicide by jumping off.

Which one of them (the most likable and lively one sadly) actually does jump and that’s…

It.

There’s no real response. There’s no mourning for her. No end of the curse. No fallout. That is the dramatic ending. Massive underage drinking and a suicide that takes up about a page. We don’t even get to see the girls funeral. It was a pointless loss. The only thing we get is an epilogue with Lorna and her mother that they did indeed take off. (My last nitpick. I try not to judge but seriously two weeks after your kid gets so shit-faced that she’s going to kill herself and witnesses another friend do and you’re splitting a bottle of wine on your new porch?) I think one of the only reasons I felt sorry for the girls by the end was they were so totally and completely let down by the adults in their lives I couldn’t help it.

Recommend: Honestly, no. This book gets pretty middle of the road reviews on Goodreads. I think I could have passed everything off as just not liking the characters or connecting with the book but the throw away use of suicide was the last straw for me.

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