I liked Role Playing so much! The main characters are only a few years younger than I am, and more of this, please! I am very sad to say that this isn’t out until July 1. You should put it on your Summer TBR, because it is excellent.
Maggie and Aiden’s relationship is inadvertently driven by two mother/son relationships. Maggie makes an effort to be more social as part of a pact with her son, who is a freshman in college. She is worried that he isn’t trying to make friends, so she promises to go do things if he promises to go do things on campus.
Aiden is trying to get his mother to take his concerns about her driving and health seriously, but she refuses to discuss the issues with him unless he brings a woman as a date to a family wedding. This is not a case of an adorable, meddling mom trying to help her son find happiness, this is an angry, bitter woman who wants her son to conform to her ideas of who he should be. Role Playing is very anti-meddling. I approve.
Aiden and Maggie initially become friendly anonymously. when Maggie joins his gaming guild, but he thinks she’s in her 80’s and she thinks he’s a college student. The transition to an analog friendship is a bit rocky. Both have had difficult relationships in the past. Maggie’s experience being married to her ex husband has left her feeling anti-romance, and Aiden’s ex fiancee dumped him and married his brother. Neither has never been truly accepted for who they are.
I have yet to experience an age when I wasn’t questioning and rethinking who I am and what kind of person I want to be. It’s different though at 50 than it is at 30 or 15, and Yardley does a great job of reflecting that. Maggie and Aiden are comfortable with some fundamental parts of themselves, but they still face choices about how to live their lives. Should Maggie lean in to being an anti-social hermit? Should Aiden constantly cut off pieces of his soul to make his family happy?
I thought this was delightful and I’m always in favor of a characters getting the love and acceptance they deserve without conforming to social expectations.
CW: parent deaths off page, queerphobia (challenged), toxic family relationships, hostile public outing, injury.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Montlake and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.