Review and G!veaway: Becoming Mona Lisa by Holden Robinson

Publication Date: May 31st, 2012
Black Rose Writing
Format: E-copy from author
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
“We are not invisible because the world does not see us. We become invisible when we can no longer see ourselves.” 
In a moment of epiphany, Mona Lisa Siggs, scratches a poignant quote on a lavender envelope. Faced with the daunting choice of saving her marriage, or killing her husband – which modern forensics has made nearly impossible to get away with – Mona decides to make one final effort to rekindle a relationship seriously on the skids.
Cue the birds.
Hours into their reconciliation, Mona and her husband Tom, find themselves surrounded by hundreds of crows who have made their home in Aunt Ida’s trees. With the help of brother-in-law Robbie, the duo finds themselves engaged in radical crow relocation methods. Effort leads to mayhem for the Siggs, as they dodge bird goo, a crazy neighbor armed with a potato gun, and local law enforcement. From the chaos, lessons emerge, those that save a relationship, and shape a life. Becoming Mona Lisa is a delightful story of love and self-discovery, delivered with sidesplitting laughter.

We are not invisible because the world does not see us. We become invisible when we can no longer see ourselves.
That’s basically the crux of the problem for our couple. They let their marriage define them until they could no longer recognize themselves. There is such a thing as getting too comfortable in your own skin and being too accepting of what may come. For Tom and Mona, the abyss separating them becomes a suffocating noose that just about killed their marriage.
Here’s the thing with this book: the author immortalized Mona’s character so well that I felt all her discontent, boredom, unhappiness and resignation. As a reader, you’ll either admire the author for writing something so real or if you’re not interested in reading about the plight of a bored housewife, you’ll give up on the book altogether. I, however, felt a certain connection with Mona; after all, I’ve only ever been with one person for the last nineteen years (married for 13). I don’t know any couples who’d never gone through a slump in their relationship and if someone tells you that they haven’t then they’re not being honest with themselves.

But they’re not only dissatisfied with where their marriage was headed, they’re unhappy with their lives period. Mona was a Wal-Mart employee and Tom was…well, the poor man couldn’t have had the saddest employment of all – a used car salesman. They live in an inherited house on the verge of dilapidation; living beside an elderly man who’s out to get them (he’s sure they killed Aunt Ida – the woman who left them their house). But as soon as I met him, I just knew that he’d have a hand in saving the Siggs’ marriage one way or another.

Mona and Tom represent any other couples who’ve been together for what seems like eternity. When the spark is reduced to nothing but a dying smoke, there’s nothing left but companionship. Marriages sometimes define couples and in their case, marriage changed them for the worse. This novel is about how they found each other again through unconventional means. Accidental, destiny, divine intervention – call it what you will. I, for one, will not resort to anything mythical or religious. I’m content into believing that we are architects of our own destinies. Life gives us plenty of chances and it’s up to us to what we do with them. You can waste it away or act on it.

These two needed a wakeup call; they’ve began to take themselves for granted, resigned to believe that they’ve seen the best of their marriage. They’ve also forgotten who they were and have lost all hopes and pieces of themselves through the years. All it takes though is that lone spark – that recognition of faults and misgivings and they needed to look at themselves first before pointing the finger at one another. They needed a lot of soul-searching and honesty in order to find those missing pieces and happiness in each other again. For me, I think there’s only one question you needed to ask yourself if you ever find yourself in a situation where you see the beginning of the end of your marriage. Can you truly see yourself without him or her?


I didn’t think I’d like this book as much as I did. This was therapeutic in a way that I saw myself the way Mona did. It takes more than one person to have a successful, lasting marriage but it certainly starts from oneself to jump start it when it stalls. Holden Robinson wrote like she had experienced it all resulting in a very natural storytelling that was real and surreal at the same time. Surreal because at one point in my life, I’d been there and it seemed like Holden had written everything that I’d felt at the time. She combined humor and honesty to tell a story about the sad reality of most marriages in the 21stcentury. Sometimes, it’s not so much as one cheating on their spouses; sometimes, it’s as simple as one losing interest in the other. The journey for Tom and Mona took years of loneliness but the destination was sweet nonetheless. Oh and BIRDS. And senile neighbors. 

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