Monday, June 25, 2018

Laura & Emma

Title:  Laura & Emma
Author:  Kate Greathead
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2018. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1501156608 / 978-1501156601

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Laura sometimes woke up in the night, rattled by thoughts she'd never have during the day."

Favorite Quote:  "Buck up. Fake it till you feel it. The show must go on. This was the way they did things - These people in the world she'd grown up in."

Laura and Emma is a book about life centered around Laura who lives in New York City. When Laura is in her thirties, an accidental pregnancy leads to the birth of Emma and to Laura's adventures in parenting. This book follows Laura from the point of her pregnancy until Emma's high school years.

The story is really Laura's story, reaching beyond her life as a single parent to Emma. It reaches into her relationship with her parents, her brother, and her friends. It reaches into a professional life and into her forays towards a social life. Emma is present in the story as a part of Laura's life rather than a freestanding character whose life the reader follows.

The book is somewhat chronological, but is really a series of sequential snapshots. The reader has to connect the dots to see the progression. I keep expecting an epiphany or a moment of reflection or growth to emerge to tie the story together. However, it never does. The snapshots of Laura's life remain that - a series of sometimes amusing and sometimes annoying mundane events in the life of a wealthy, thirty-something year old woman.

Throughout, there are hints at subplots that could develop into stories with greater depth. The book touches on many different many. The decision surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. Postpartum depression. The struggles and joys of single parenthood. The mother-daughter relationship both between Laura and her mother Bibs and Laura and her daughter Emma. The competitive world of New York private schools. The AIDS epidemic. The role of the hired help. The ending, I think, tries to reach a philosophical point. I am not entirely sure what it is. Unfortunately, the book just touches on these things and then flits away to another.

The hardest part of this book is that I find myself completely unable to relate to Laura in so many ways. I want to relate to her challenges in parenting and her anecdotes of life in New York. However, Laura's lifestyle puts her completely in a different world for Laura's world is the world of the rich - of old money.

Her apartment may not be what she considers the right neighborhood, but it is a penthouse. She has her job because her family is part of the Board of Trustees. When Emma is born, the job conveniently becomes part-time with the hours matching Emma's preschool hours. Oh, and at her full salary and with eight weeks of paid vacation time in the summer. That summer vacation is spent in the family "cottage" on the shore. Emma goes to the same prestigious private school that Laura attended as a child; Laura is disappointed that it is not the more progressive private school that she wanted for Emma. Laura and her brother's sibling arguments are over how much of their expenses their parents pay for - her apartment, his country club membership, her daughter's private school tuition, and so on. Laura considers taking the subway and doing her own grocery shopping major accomplishments. After a while, it is difficult to concentrate on the issues faced by the characters because they have absolutely no concept of the issues faced by the majority of the readers of this book.

All in all, the book leaves me slightly amused if only at the "cluelessness" of the main character. Even more so, it unfortunately leaves me wondering what the point was.

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

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