When Tito Loved Clara
Tito and Clara were teenaged lovers. The secret romantic relationship ended abruptly, and in such a way as to end without a sense of emotional closure (especially for Tito). After 15 years apart Tito and Clara’s paths cross again. Playing “catch up” and moving forward with the relationship as if they’d never parted is something Tito’s been daydreaming about his entire life. Clara had almost forgotten Tito completely and would do so all but too willingly when they meet again.
This is a novel about living stereotypes. The story is about love lost. It’s survival of the fittest: “Who will grow up? Who will act like an adult?”. The novel is constructed by alternating the perspective from character to character, which allows the reader a sense of wholeness. We, as readers, have the privilege to see the entire picture with more clarity than the subjects within the disappointing image.
I found the character’s familiar, but foreign just the same. I tried to like them, but learned to hate all but one; Guillermo (Clara’s five-year-old son) is the only exception. I’m not the most sympathetic person- but if you’re stuck in the (now imaginary) seemingly perfect relationship you had in high school with a woman you haven’t seen in 15 years, you are not living, you are emotionally stunted. You become the shell of the person you used to be; you become nothing but an object to pity.
The reason Tito and Clara find one another again was not the least bit entertaining. The present tense events of the narrative are strung together almost entirely by the repugnant crimes of one man, a Latin-American thug recently released from jail. Everyone’s (not just Tito and Clara’s) lives unravel as secrets are revealed. Contemptible secrets pour from even the two most seemingly clean-cut and innocent mouths.
I have to congratulate Michaud on creating a work so undeniably real. People like this do exist- have existed, and will continue to hurt and love, and be pitiful. It’s difficult to hold a mirror up to ourselves, especially when what we discover is unbearably ugly. Although I laughed out loud at one line humorously integrating deep space and vaginas, I had a hard time taking in Michaud’s ultimate slice of life. When Tito Loved Clara filled me up with bitterness, and left no room for my favorite dessert- optimism.