Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Window Opens

Title:  A Window Opens
Author:  Elisabeth Egan
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2015. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1501105434 / 978-1501105432

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I drag my suitcase out from under the bed and start packing."

Favorite Quote:  "Also, please don't waste time wondering whether it's possible to 'have it all.' Banish the expression from your vocabulary; make sure your friends do, to. A better question is What do you really want? Driving headlong into the second quarter of your life without asking this question is like going grocery shopping without a list. You'll end up with a full card but nothing to cook for dinner. Figure out what you feel like eating, and then come up with your own recipe for the whole messy, delicious enchilada."

"Alice Pearse thought she would live Happily Ever After ... Then she realized she was in the wrong story." An intriguing description that draws me in. Alice and Nicholas are happily married. Nicholas is a successful attorney. Alice has a part-time job which she loves and enough time to drive carpools and volunteer for the PTA. They have a house in the suburbs. As far as Alice is concerned, they are living happily ever after.

Then, Nicholas loses his job. He decides to set up his own business, and Alice decides to seek a full time job while their income is unstable. The perfect job seems to find her. Scroll, a new startup, has a vision for bringing books and reading to every shopping area around, and they seek out Alice to be part of the team. Alice jumps at the chance to be part of an exciting new adventure in books. Happily ever after may be possible after all.

Or not. Nicholas finds the transition harder than he expected and heads down a destructive path. Alice's father battles cancer. Alice's best friend, a book store owner, becomes a victim of businesses like Scroll. Alice may lose her trusted babysitter. The shiny exterior and glorious promises of Alice's new employer do not match the reality. Maybe happily every after is not to be.

So goes the very real and very relatable-to-me life of Alice Pearse. As a daughter, wife, mother, and paid and volunteer employee, I relate to her struggle to keep a healthy balance between the various facets of life. Of course, the book is a slightly condensed, slightly exaggerated version of the ups and downs, but that only sharpens the picture I can relate to. The book has a lot of funny moments, but it also has many heartfelt emotions, particularly in Alice's relationship with her father. I find myself moved by her experiences, cheering for her, and putting myself in her shoes and thinking what would I do?

The fact that her work is centered around books makes this an even more enjoyable story for me. What book lover doesn't enjoy references to other books and a discussion of all things book related. For example, here are a couple of Alice's humorous references to books:
  • "Dad, I already read What Color is Your Parachute. Now I need the sequel:  Your Husband's Parachute is Broken. Kidding, but still."
  • "We joked that there should be a brochure called What to Expect When You're Not Expecting Much."
Her new employer Scroll becomes a commentary on current discussions in the book world - the role of print versus e-books, the struggles of small independent bookstores, and the challenge to encourage children to read in a world of electronic gaming. Along the way, the book coins some lovely, amusing terms such as:
  • "platform agnostic" - those who read in all formats, prints and electronic, with no clear preference.
  • "carbon-based books" - in other words, print media.
Alice's life like ours is a sometimes bumpy ride, full of joys and sorrows. Ultimately, Alice finds the story in which she belongs; I hope the same is true for all of us.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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