Bookmarks Issue: 

A Novel

A-LittleLoveStoryJake Entwhistle’s girlfriend died in 9/11. A year later, he’s hanging out at the local donut shop when the new love of his life, Janet Rossi, rams into his truck—and, of course, into his life. The catch? Janet has cystic fibrosis, and the couple’s head-over-heels romance is quickly brought down to earth as Janet and Jake cope with her worsening illness. Through the innumerable visits to the hospital, the lovers are supported by a remarkable cast of minor characters: Janet’s boss (she works for the governor of Massachusetts), Jake’s best friend, Janet’s dad. While struggling with all the emotions that attend terminal illness, Jake and Janet also wrestle with the jealousy of former lovers.
Shaye Areheart. 272 pages. $23. ISBN: 1400048672

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"It is a kind of feverish parallel universe where everything moves fast: time, the deepening of romance into love, and, most of all, the implacable approach of death. … [Jack and Janet] are underdogs in the sense that fate has stacked the deck against them, but they’re also shamelessly heroic in that this burden affects them very deeply and at the same time not at all." Joan Wickersham

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"To say Merullo’s latest novel is true to its title is to diminish the impact of this thoughtful, restrained (yet very sexy) book." Maggie Galehouse

Providence Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"There is nothing little about this moving, perceptively written, and unexpectedly poignant love story. … [Merullo] writes with grace and insight, and his novel seduced me so completely that I dreaded to find out what might happen to Rossi." Sam Coale

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s routine these days to praise fiction writers for being original, but what about the novelist who ventures into conventional territory without stepping on exploding clichés? Roland Merullo is that quietly intrepid kind of author. … For all its sadness, his narrative is never maudlin; for all its familiarity, it’s never trite." Donna Rifkind

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"A Little Love Story is fresh, never predictable. … Merullo, who has straddled social class in his own life as a blue-collar kid who went to elite schools and is a successful writer, obviously has a warm place in his heart for the working class. Jake is quite believable as a human being, but not as a WASP and not because the author made him a carpenter." Rita Giordano

Critical Summary

The reviews of A Little Love Story are remarkably uniform: nearly everyone who’s read the book remarks that this novel shouldn’t work. It should crash and burn on the shoals of cliché. Janet and Jake’s romance should seem cloying, and readers should suffocate in all the emotion. But Merullo, best known for In Revere, in Those Days (2002), masterfully steers clear of those potential pitfalls. He produces a grand, moving story, believable characters, and a graceful dialogue that, taken together, reminded a few critics of Erich Segal’s 1970 classic, Love Story. A Little Love Story will rekindle the reader’s trust not only in love but also in love stories.