First loves are not easily forgotten—nor do they typically fail to make a lasting impact on the course of one’s life. Clara Lugo’s experience with first love burned passionately while it lasted, but abruptly ended as life circumstances took Clara far away from Tito, her family and her Manhattan Dominican Republican enclave.

Fifteen years after that fateful summer, Clara effectively shed her cultural roots for the American Dream with a white archivist she met in college. However, the life she thought she left behind finds its way into her New Jersey suburb, forcing her to look into her hurtful past for answers to the future. For Clara, what remained of the romance between her and Tito is left back at home, except for the one secret she has kept that will forever link her to her past.

It’s not until Tito comes back into her life that Clara arrives at the crossroads of her past and future. Tito’s love for Clara forces her to face the reality of her abandoned ethnicity, the trappings of a an unfulfilled life and what it may have looked like had she chosen differently.

Jon Michaud perfects a tale as old as time in When Tito Loved Clara—when young love fails to conquer the tumultuous environment it battles. In his narrative he intertwines the struggles of living an immigrant life and the heartbreak of losing a first love when another life path beckons.

Michaud calls into question the perceived happiness associated with achieving the American Dream, bringing to life the realities people face in the midst of deciding moments that ultimately determine the rest of one’s life.

By alternating the narrating perspective in each chapter, Michaud cleverly looks at Clara’s past, present and future through her eyes and through those involved in the decisions she had made over the years. The narrative comes to life by weaving in and out of the minds and hearts of lovers, family and friends.

When Tito Loved Clara invites readers to take an introspective look at their own lives, as they will find parts of themselves in the events surrounding Tito and Clara’s young love, separation and later reunion as life takes its inevitable course.

 

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