The best thing I can say about Love Lessons is that it isn’t boring. It’s jam-packed with trite dialogue, cliché characters, unrealistic settings and purple prose, but it retains a sort of campy charm that kept me reading until the last page – if only to see what situation the too-stupid-to-live heroine and her testosterone-driven hero would find themselves in next.
Susanna Diaz and Daniel Stephens meet when they are called into the principal’s office because their eighth-grade daughters aren’t getting along as study partners. It’s immediately apparent to the reader that Katrina Diaz and Terry Stephens get along fine and have staged the fight in order to fix their parents up, but Susanna and Daniel are too stupid to pick up on this obvious clue. Instead, they enter some sort of hormone-induced twilight zone where they decide to hate each other, but make out anyway. Susanna has supposedly sworn off men after leaving her abusive ex-husband, but she senses that Daniel is different. Of course he is; he may be the first man she’s ever met whose thoughts originate entirely from below the belt. In one key scene, he almost offers to do her yard work, but reconsiders after one glimpse of how good she looks trimming the hedges. When their daughters rope them into chaperoning the school camping trip, they indulge in some pretty torrid sex only a few feet from several dozen snoozing teen-agers. After that, I gave up on these repulsive people. I didn’t care about them, and their problems didn’t matter to me.
Even Katrina and Terry, who had the potential of being the most interesting characters, never rose above the level of mediocrity. Katrina spends most of the book moping around the house and talking back to her mother with no excuse other than the fact that she’s a teen-ager. Terry, in contrast, is a well-behaved child but, as a result, she has very little personality. The girls seem to serve the sole purpose of getting their parents together. Beyond that, they might as well have been lifted right out of the story.
I should also mention that, since Susanna and Katrina are bilingual, many lines of dialogue are written in Spanish. This was interesting, but it made the book harder for me to understand, since none of the Spanish is translated. A few well-placed footnotes would have corrected this problem.
To it’s credit, I couldn’t put this novel down. But there’s a big difference between truly enjoying a book and reading it because it’s an unintentional parody. Love Lessons definitely falls into the latter category.