One of these books is about a pregnant woman discovering and dealing with her husband’s infidelity and the other is about a mother dealing with a terrifying home invasion so you wouldn’t necessarily think they would be grouped together but no, I’m going for it. And let me explain why.
The biggest and most truthful reason is that I didn’t much care for either and by lumping them together I can spend fewer words on both. The second and more tenuous reason is that both deal with childbirth and motherhood, ideas that make me back slowly away into a bush Homer Simpson-style. Moreso The Need than Heartburn but I’ll get to that.
Heartburn opens with Rachel, seven months pregnant with their second child, discovering proof that her husband is cheating. And he’s like just such an irredeemable sack of shit. Like absolute “punt into traffic” nightmare person. Rachel flees to her native New York (Ephron’s disdain of D.C. also irked me) where she bounces around until he comes to get her back and she acquiesces until she realizes he’s still with the other lady so she dumps his ass and gets back on the Northeast Corridor. That’s it. There’s this underlying storytelling device where she’s a famous cookbook author and she interweaves stories with her recipes so here Ephron interweaves recipes into her stories along with Rachel in her own head talking about how she would weave her life into her cookbooks or the stories she has woven into her cookbooks and I found it exhausting. At least the book was short. Also, I’m a newlywed. Literally everyone in this book is a bored cheater. No thanks.
Onto The Need which I somehow liked even less. This book centers around the mother of two young children who thinks she has an intruder in her house. Spoiler alert: she does. That’s not the focus of the book though. The secret twist identity of the intruder isn’t even the focus of the book, though it really could have been, especially given the last-minute “Wait a tic” twist that’s thrown in at the end. The focus of book is the trauma a person’s body goes through during and after childbirth to the extent that this book reads (to me, childless) as body horror. I wanted to be done with this book as fast as possible and anyone who tries to tell me I should have kids is welcome to read this.