Love Enough by Dionne Brand


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use the 50-page rule when I get the feeling that a book is not for me. Even though I felt it in my gut, I didn’t follow the rule for this book and was regretful. But looking back, I think Dionne Brand is a dynamite writer and I can’t wait to try another one of her books.

Love Enough tells the story of the intersecting lives of a middle-aged woman with a life-time of bad relationships, a troubled young man who has beaten someone for their car and a sad young girl who can’t stop being haunted by the mother who abandoned her as a child. We learn about the people whom they love or have loved, the unshakeable longings and questions that remain unanswered.

As an award-winning poet, it’s no surprise Dionne Brand’s narrative is gorgeous and lyrical. She paints the bleak, ugliness of an urban environment within a gilded frame and finds the beauty in flawed, agitated characters. As someone who previously lived in Toronto for almost fifteen years and still works there, I appreciated how cleverly she used the city as a backdrop for turmoil, revealing all of the shadow and light her characters wander through physically and emotionally.

Other than the elegance of the author’s writing, I did not enjoy the book. I found it difficult to take interest in the characters and their problems. June, the middle-aged woman’s story provided a few sparks of interest, but all of their pain seemed to me a direct result of their stubbornness, impetuous behaviour and unwavering belief the world owes them something. I wanted to tell them to grow up and get over themselves.

For me, Love Enough is lacking because of its characters. I don’t believe it’s necessarily an issue of “likeability” or lack of ability to empathize with their story because the theme of just wanting to be loved is universal and very relatable. I found it hard to believe such messed-up characters could be talking or thinking with such sophistication about life and the complexities of love. Dionne Brand served as Toronto’s Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012. She is a tremendously gifted writer and in the book she conjures up deep, magical observations for characters that do not deserve it.

3/5 Stars


4 comments on “Love Enough by Dionne Brand

  1. Naomi
    November 29, 2014

    I find it hard to review a book I’m not crazy about. Luckily, it doesn’t happen very often. It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the reason I don’t like it, and I wonder if it’s just me or my mood. Unless it’s something obvious, like bad writing, but then I don’t usually finish the book. It sounds like this one just didn’t ring true for you.


    • ebookclassics
      December 2, 2014

      I feel like it’s really tough when it’s obvious the author is really talented, but I just didn’t like the book. I think I take a lot longer to process the book in my head before I write a review when I didn’t love it.


  2. DoingDewey
    December 10, 2014

    Interesting! I definitely like the be able to empathize with characters and feel as though I learn to understand them, whether or not they’re likable. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I expect it would bother me if the characters didn’t seem believable too.


    • ebookclassics
      December 11, 2014

      I think this was the hardest part for me to grasp after reading the book. I really needed some time to process and come to realize that the author’s writing is so beautiful, but I couldn’t envision the characters saying or thinking these things.


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This entry was posted on November 29, 2014 by in Reviews and tagged , , .

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