The Careful Undressing of Love

Some books are too easy to miss. Don’t let this be one of them.


  • Author: Corey Ann Haydu
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • Year: 2017
  • Genre vibe: You know how some things are contemporary, but also like, they read like a cult horror novel? It’s like that.
  • At a glance: If a girl from Devonairre Street falls in love with a man,  he dies. This is the Curse. The Devonairre Street girls live in disgust for the curse, untouched by it as yet. But then a boy they all loved dies, and all of the girls’ lives are thrown out of focus.

The story of this book is kind of unremarkable: I impulse-bought something else a couple days before it came out, then I saw it and went back to exchange. I don’t even remember the original impulse-buy at this point; this book was too good. But what’s funny is I don’t have a lot to say about it.

This is a book about tragedy and grief and how love is both of those things all the time, and I don’t know how much there is to say about that in and of itself. But this book is also a book about Tragic Events. And it’s also a book about Those Girls. Any and all of these things are things that carry a specific taste and feeling–whole books have been written about them on their own. This book is about them all, and in that, it’s heady. A little cloying, a little too much at times. This is a book for people like me, who just really like crying over fictional people. This is a book for a lot of things.

Books like these are quite often my favorite because sometimes they fly under the radar; people aren’t sure how to define or talk about them or figure out even how they feel about them. That’s part of what makes them so good. Books like these are a tangible thing, and they’re hard to let go of while you’re reading them, and after you’re done they leave you with that nameless “holy-shit-what-even-do-I-love-so-much-about-this-book” type feeling. There’s a lot of things in these kinds of book that often just make you feel. And that, I think, is their biggest strength.

So overall, this book is…

  • 4/5 stars
  • for people who really like feelings (and probably April Tucholke)
  • tradition, and old neighborhoods, and knowing how to feel things you wish you didn’t
  • Cleopatra by The Lumineers