Don’t Make a Scene Review
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Life isn’t always easy for a single girl in The Big Apple—and it seems like Diane Kurasik just can’t catch a break. She’s watched her friends get married and start families, but she can’t seem to find the right guy—and now she’s getting evicted from her perfect apartment. So, at 39, Diane is single and nearly homeless. The only thing she’s got is her job, managing the Bedford Street Cinema, a revival house that shows classics, foreign films, and anything else that Diane decides to show. And even that isn’t all that fulfilling anymore.

Then Diane meets Vladimir Hurtado Padrón, a complicated Cuban architect who’s hired to work on the theater’s expansion project. Vladimir is beautiful but brooding. He’s obsessed with Castro. And his situation is messy: he’s married to a woman he hasn’t seen in years, but she refuses to give him a divorce. Still, Diane sees Vladimir as a worthwhile challenge—and the two begin a strange kind of non-relationship.

Don’t Make a Scene isn’t your typical work of chick lit. It isn’t predictable, and it’s not neat. Diane doesn’t just meet Vladimir, fall in love, move in, and live happily ever after (solving all of her problems at once). The story is messy. The two characters are opposites—and they’re not always likeable. Vladimir, especially, isn’t a likeable character. He’s a self-absorbed and obsessive womanizer. All he really cares about is the death of Castro (which, despite the insights that Vladimir’s rants present, gets exhausting and irritating after a while). He doesn’t like movies—or even try to, for Diane’s sake.

Then again, Diane isn’t always the most likeable character, either. You want to like her—but she doesn’t make it easy. She’s often testy and critical. But she’s trying to find happiness—and take control of her life. But while she doesn’t really like her job anymore, she keeps turning down other offers. She complains about her life—but she doesn’t really take the steps to do something about it.

Despite the less-than-lovable characters, though, I still found Don’t Make a Scene to be an interesting read. Maybe that’s just because I love movies, and this book is flooded with movie references—which, admittedly, might be a little confusing for non-cinephiles. In fact, even I found the frequent references (followed by the director and year in parentheses) a bit distracting at times. But the theater scenarios and the constant film references keep it light and fun. And the writing is smart and often observant. It shows that relationships aren’t perfect—but they’re sometimes surprising. And I found myself underlining plenty of clever passages as I read.

According to the author (via her main character), the book’s ending is like that of a French film. In that, I suppose she’s saying that the conclusions of French films are implausible and temporary and extremely uncomfortable—because that’s what the end of this book is. It’s definitely a daring way to end—and I can appreciate that—but it’s sure to leave readers with an uneasy feeling. So while Don’t Make a Scene is original and insightful, it’s neither a neat nor a comfortable read. If you have a love for movies and the unconventional, I recommend checking it out—but proceed with caution.

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