The well-known quote of not judging a book by its cover unequivocally applies to I Hope You Fall in Love. A collection of poetry and prose written by R YS Pérez, this book is not the lovey-dovey schmaltz that the cover would initially lead you to believe.
Pérez dedicates the book to “those who love hard and those who are afraid to.” In her introduction, she notes that she has a problem when it comes to writing: “I only seem to write when I am falling in love or falling apart.” She then brilliantly notes that, “…writing is all about divergent thinking colliding with a hurricane of emotions.” She makes another analogy to love as weather when she writes, “Love no longer becomes a feeling – it becomes a storm.” Love is as unpredictable and powerful as the weather. We try to make sense of the weather, why not try to make sense of love— and that is what Pérez is doing in I Hope You Fall in Love.
Throughout the book there are brief, but notable, one paragraph diary entries. The most outstanding was dated 6 October 2016 (Pérez writes the date as it would appear in Spanish, where the day is written first and not the month as in American English):
“My sister asked me “Do you love someone all the time?”’ And it was one of those moments when I realized I could say something profound. So, I took a deep breath, thought about it. No, I said, sometimes you’ll want to strangle them more than you love them. But then it passes, and you’ll love them even more.”
Absolute truth! When you truly love someone, they can drive you mad. As Olympia Dukakis’ Rose said to Cher’s Loretta in the classic film, Moonstruck, “When you love ’em, they drive you crazy. ‘Cause they know they can.”
Pérez’s exploration of love is not just limited to romantic love. She explores the love of family (even writing to an unborn, future daughter), connecting with your roots as well as love of country.
“My family is like America; we are blend of melanin and uncertain borders.”
“My family is like America; a country of tolerance, and so many other things all at once. A beautiful mess of so many complexities. My family is like America; or at least the America I would like to be in.”
Pérez also bravely bears out her insecurities in the section of prose titled “The Color Brown.”
“I wanted to embody what I loved about my favorite colors, to be bright and lovely.”
Later in the poem titled, “My Skin: Take Pride in It”, Pérez takes on whitewashing via self-exploration:
“The color of the surface of my skin
tinted like windows,
mocking the sun,
creating artificial nightfall creeping across
“You dread because you want to rid yourself of the ancestral bond…”
Ultimately, in spite of what she detailed in “The Color Brown”, Pérez accepts who she is in “My Skin: Take Pride in It”,
“But I could never find myself
to be ashamed
of my beautiful cinnamon brown
I Hope You Fall in Love is Pérez’s first book (she is one to watch). At times, it feels a bit all of the place while concurrently feeling cohesive—and that is its genius! It brilliantly captures the wide-ranging feelings love can provoke in a very personal, but relatable way. I Hope You Fall in Love really stayed with me in that it got me to thinking about past romantic relationships, my relationships with friends, family and deceased loved ones for several days after I completed it.
Going back to my initial feelings on the cover, I was absolutely wrong about its simplicity. Like the book, there is a great deal of complexity in the cover. Love, like the web-like suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, can be confusing, but when properly anchored, can hold you up.
Ms. Pérez’s web site is https://www.rebeccaysperez.com/ .
Ms. Pérez can also be found on Good Reads at https://www.goodreads.com/Becks-TheStoryBookGirl