Love Invents Us
Elizabeth Taube is a chubby, unpretty teenager who falls in love with everyone- her piano teacher, the old man who takes her into the back of his store and dresses her in furs, and her smart, charismatic, beaten-down teacher, Max Stone. When she’s a little older, she falls in love with Huddie, a young black man on the school basketball team who helps her forget her chilly, imperfect parents, her lack of beauty and even her relationship with Max, who never forgets her and she ends up taking care of when his health deteriorates and Huddie is sent away from her. Over the course of thirty years, these three lovable and exasperating people continue to cross each other’s paths as Elizabeth grows from an unformed girl into a scarred, smart-mouthed woman who, despite her manifestly imperfect life, never loses her great compassion for the people she loves and is never entirely without the men who need it. Nothing much happens in this book, but it doesn’t need to- it contains multitudes. Bloom’s short stories, grouped together in ‘A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You’ and ‘Come to Me,’ are also worth a look, particularly ‘Silver Water,’ and ‘The Sight of You.’ You can see earlier versions of Elizabeth and Max in some of the stories, but here they’re much easier to love.