When one of your favorite people (Anne Lamott) tells People magazine that she, “gobbled it up in one sitting” and you slogged through the book trying to figure out what “good writing” Lamott was talking about, you feel badly about things. I feel badly about myself. It’s like why do I suck so much? But hey, maybe this book isn’t for me. Maybe the movie coming out with Nicole Kidman will strike the nerve that the book did not do for me. Maybe. Maybe I’m just sick of the dueling perspectives and attempting to glean what’s actually going on, reading between the lines and figuring out who I’m rooting for. But in this book? It seemed like a no brainer. Like? I wasn’t confused for a single second as to who was the bad guy/girl…even when murder came into play, I was like, “yup, that’s what you get”. NOT A SPOILER BUT IT SEEMS LIKE ONE.
***I paused my review to think about the book some more and this is what I came up with***
So I guess, reflecting on the book, the writing was probably subtly great to the extent that I wasn’t upset over the fact that we’re told at the beginning of the book that she will murder him, and I was pleased with the outcome. Ok Anne Lamott, we’re on the same side again, I think. But I didn’t enjoy the book at all. I thought that the writing was stunted and the storyline while clearly manipulative (good manipulative), it was kind of boring. But don’t trust me, ok. You’ll probably love it and go on to chat with Anne Lamott about how dumb I am for not liking it and yada, yada, yada.
***3rd edit of my review***
I’m kind of horrified by this book.
Simple plot overview, Jodi and Todd have been together for 20 years. For reasons involving her own parents, Jodi chooses not to get married but remains very committed to Todd. Jodi lives a very structured life. She is a a psychologist who chooses her patients based on how much she feels like she can help them. It’s hinted that something in her own childhood or past, she suppresses which hinders her ability to counsel, and perhaps even forces such order and routine in her life. I’m trying really hard not to spoil this but I feel like it could be harmful without forewarning… there are triggers here that some should be aware of, especially because there’s a very small implied plot point that she herself, is repeating the cycle. Todd cheats on her habitually and eventually falls in love with one of these people and ends up leaving Jodi. Because Jodi is not married to Todd, she is entitled to nothing from their marriage. When Jodi gets backed up to the wall, she fights back–all of this is told to us in the first chapter.
In the “Todd chapters”, he justifies himself and he sounds very much like Humbert Humbert from Lolita (even though his girlfriend is 20). He fights hard to not be like his father who was an alcoholic…while becoming an alcoholic. He hates the routine and structure that Jodi gave him but then talks about yearning for that same structure as a child. The book is a depressing slog that seems to imply that the “sins”/pain of the family will reemerge within an individual whether they want them to or not. Neither character is self-aware, because neither character was ever able to work through their childhood traumas… and that seemed much more of a tragedy than a psychological thriller to me.