Saturday, October 11, 2014

Boundaries, A Love Story, by Christine Z. Mason, ANOTHER Local Author

I want to start this post by saying something pretty emphatically:  I LOVE BEING A BOOK BLOGGER IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA!!!!!  Okay, now that I've calmed down a bit, I will say the same thing more quietly.  We simply have an enormous amount of talented authors here that I get to meet and read and support.  Don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy the national giants - Silva, Baldacci (I'm reading The Target, Will Robie #3, now), Picoult, Griffin, Iles, Coben, etc.  But I continually get introduced to local authors who can really write.  The latest is Christine Z. Mason.

How did I even meet Christine?  Funny you should ask.  She came to our VHOB Book Club (now Recycle Book Club) meeting in August to support Ellen Sussman.  I met her there, and we struck up an email conversation.  She offered to send me her book, and, because I'm very cheap, I jumped at the opportunity.  I am so glad I did!

I can never synopsize a book as well as Goodreads does.  Here's what they say about Boundaries, A Love Story.

A novel about abandonment and passion, chronicling an imprudent but profound love, a maelstrom of family secrets, and a tragedy . . . This East Coast-West Coast tale tracks the conflicts between individual desire and societal expectations, weaving together the secrets, tragedies, and clandestine affairs of two families, one living in Maine, the other in California.

This book started right out making me feel at home.  On page 6, the characters talk about Boston University, where my youngest, Lauren, went to school (and found her husband, Joe), and Boalt Hall, the law school on the University of California, Berkeley campus. Although I didn't go to law school there (I went to Santa Clara University - are you surprised?  Shocked, even?), I did do my undergraduate there (I majored in history - not too useful in the job market, methinks).  It was fun to see those references.  Later in the book, there's even a mention of Solano Avenue, in Berkeley, which is right around the corner from where I grew up in Albany (from ages 5 to 14).  I don't need to be able to relate to geographical landmarks to enjoy a book, but I don't dislike that either.

I like the title of this book a lot; because it's about 1st cousins who start spending time together when he's 22, and she's only 16.  And it actually is about their love story.  Of course the title speaks for itself.  But this is about a lot more than just the 2 main characters, Kaia and Mark.  It's also about Mark's parents and Kaia's parents and their "interactions."  There are a couple of ancillary people, like Chandi, Kaia's dad's girlfriend, and Sig, Kaia's best friend, both in the Bay Area.  But, really, it's the 2 central figures and their 4 parents.

You know, I would think some plots are easier to write than others.  Christine writes about a very sensitive theme.  And she does it in such a way that it's not creepy.  In fact, she paints some pictures that do have creepy elements to them.  But they do not extend to Mark and Kaia.  That relationship seems very natural.  I applaud her for that.

Here's another news flash.  Boundaries is a 439-page book.  I did not tear up until page 384.  So, obviously, I didn't emotionally connect with the characters.  WRONG!  I actually teared up quite a bit in the last 55 pages.  But even prior to that, I was very caught up with all of the principals.  In this case (don't get used to it!), the tearing up did not reflect my emotional commitment.  Why is that?  Beats me. It just is what it is.  The only thing I can figure out is that some books take longer to build up to the waterworks than others!

The last piece of the book that I would like to mention is that I thoroughly enjoyed how Christine spoke in different voices.  Every time she did that, I was able to put myself in the shoes/person of the speaker.  And with all of the stuff that was going down, it gave me greater insight into what happened in each case.  Again, bravo, Christine.

Did I like Boundaries, A Love Story?  I most certainly did.  Would I recommend it? Absolutely.  Is there anybody I would suggest not read it?  Definitely not.  Pick it up and enjoy the high-end product of another Bay Area artist.  They're all over the place, and Christine is one more to add to the group.  We are blessed, people.

PERSONAL NOTE:  There is a ton of excessive drinking in this book by various parents. My parents were like that.  They never were officially classified "alcoholics," but I have no doubt that is exactly what they were.  I think that might be why I quit drinking in my early '30's.  So, the point of this little personal note is that I had more trouble reading about the drinking than I did any of the other goings-on. 


  1. I love it when authors tackle sensitive themes and do a good job writing about them. Thanks for introducing Christine here.

  2. It was my pleasure. In fact, Chris is going to follow you for the Recycle Book Club. She will coming to the store on Wednesday, April 22. I haven't even put this notice out to our RBC members yet. It just happened a couple of hours ago.