Saturday, April 27, 2024

Book Review - Like Happiness by Ursula Villarreal-Moura


Like Happiness by Ursula Villarreal-Moura is about a woman, Tatum Vega, whose life changes after writing a fan letter to a celebrity author. In 2015, Tatum feels that her life is finally falling into place. She is living in Chile with her partner, Vega, and has a job that she loves. She works in a museum and is surrounded by beautiful art. 

Tatum loves her new life and the easy pace that comes with it. The new change of pace helps her forget about the decade she spent devoting her life to the famous author, M. Domínguez. When Tatum was a young college student, she had a hard time connecting with other students. She spent most of her time reading but struggled when none of the books she read had characters portrayed like her. One day, she comes across a book written by M. Domínguez, and her life changes. She finally feels heard and understood. She decides to write a fan letter to Domínguez. What started as an innocent letter kick starts a decade-long hot and cold love affair.

Tatum’s new perfect life is threatened when a reporter calls Tatum and asks about her past with Domínguez. Tatum longs to forget that dark moment of her life but she realizes that she needs to come to terms with them if she wants to move on. The reporter asks about her experiences with Domínguez and if she was aware that he was accused of assaulting someone. Tatum is forced to review her relationship with Domínguez and evaluate how it made her feel.

The novel is told from an alternating timeline: one with a present-day Tatum and another in the past as Tatum is recounting it in a letter to Domínguez. The book was easy to read and get into. I was able to guess how the book was going to end but I still found it enjoyable to read. There were times when it was hard to connect with the main characters. It felt that the power dynamic between Tatum and Domínguez was off since the beginning and as an adult, I kind of question why Domínguez tried building a friendship with a younger Tatum.  Sometimes, I wonder why they both continued their friendship as it was clear each party was just using the other. Both Tatum and Domínguez were selfish and only concerned about their own needs.  When the reporter called to ask about her relationship with Domínguez, Tatum didn’t seem to care about the other person but more about her reckoning. At times, the story did move a bit slowly and I wondered what the entire point was for a few chapters. I would be open to reading more books by the author.

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