The Mod Woman February Book Club Pick & January Book Review
It's the end of January. How can a month seem to drag and fly by at the same time I don't know. Today's post is my review of the January book choice for the Mod Woman Book Club. All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg. I will also be announcing February's book.
February's book is (drumroll please)....Not Perfect by Elizabeth LeBan. Not Perfect was offered as one of the books I could download from Amazon as part of my prime membership. Usually the books that are given as options don't interest me but the synopsis for this one really peaked my interest. Below is the synopsis>
From Elizabeth LaBan, the acclaimed author of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, comes a captivating and very funny novel about a wife and mother’s fall from grace, and why keeping up appearances is not her biggest secret.
Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”
Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.
Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.
I have already started reading this book because I am impatient and couldn't wait. It will be available for download and purchase via Amazon starting tomorrow, February 1st. If you are a Prime member today is the last day you can download the book for free!
So, let’s talk about All Grown Up. I went into reading this book with certain expectations and that was honestly my own fault. I went into it thinking it would be a story about a woman much like myself: single, in her 30’s, navigating what that meant for herself. Instead what I got was a story about a deeply broken woman with a drinking and drug problem. Andrea Bern, is self-absorbed, immature, emotionally stunted, and in a lot of ways just flat out unlikeable. Her reactions to her brother’s sick child are a prime example of this. She finds the child’s illness repelling and is more concerned about her mother moving away to help care for the child than about the sick baby’s declining health.
For me, the story only truly came alive in the flashbacks. Most of the stories are from when Andrea is a young pre-teen and teenager. The author does an amazing job capturing what a young girl sounds like and thinks like. Her relationships with her mother and her present time deceased father give amazing insight into the who and why of the adult. But there never seems to be a trajectory to this story. The internal dialogue Andrea has about others including family, friends, neighbors is at times brutally mean. Which rang true to me (if we all had our thoughts exposed would we sound nice or perhaps a bit mean as well?) But she is not the least bit self-aware and seems to not be unable to link her own behavior with the outcomes of events in her life.
By the end of the book the character is 40 and still seems to have had no growth from the beginning of the book when she is in her early and mid thirties. Which for me didn’t ring true. We can be cynics and say people simply don’t change or grow. But when I look at who I was at 30 and who I am now at almost 38? I'm different. Not fundamentally different, but more self-aware, more grounded, more understanding of myself and others. The book meanders to a conclusion that feels incomplete. The ending is abrupt - so abrupt I actually thought my audio book had malfunctioned.
Did you read January's book club pick? What are your thoughts on the Andrea? Did you like her? Or did you find yourself not liking her at all? Let me know in the comments.