Saturday, November 23, 2019

Mrs. Everything

Title:  Mrs. Everything
Author:  Jennifer Weiner
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2019. 480 pages.
ISBN:  1501133489 / 978-1501133480

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

Opening Sentence:  "Her cell phone rang as they were on their way out of the movies."

Favorite Quote:  "She'd lost her taste for fiction. Sometimes she thought it was because spending even a few hours in an imaginary world would make it too tempting for her to consider other versions of her own story, other ways it could have unfolded. A different ending, a truly happily-ever-after."

Mrs. Everything, as the title implies, is a story of women. It is a story of a woman trying to do everything and be everything that society expects her to. It is a story of that continuing for a long time until finally she cannot. It is a story of a woman making the choice to go her own way and of the impact that leaves on her family.

The story begins with Jo. It is a story that begins at the end. It begins with a diagnosis that signals an ending. It offers a final opportunity to make things right, to impart lessons, to heal wounds, and to soothe a conscience:

  • "Women had made progress ... but she wondered whether they would ever not try to have it all and do it all all and do all of it flawlessly. Would the day ever come when simply doing your best would be enough? Her generation hadn't managed it, and neither had her daughters."
  • "We lose ourselves ... but we find our way back ... Wasnt' that the story of her life ... You make the wrong choices, you make mistakes, you disappear for a decade, you marry the wrong man. You get hurt. You lose sight of who you are, or of who you want to be, and then you remember, and if you're lucky you have sisters or friends who remind you when you forget your best intentions. You come back to yourself, again and again. You try, and fail, and try again, and fail again."
  • "She wished she'd spent more time teaching her girls that women should forgive themselves, showing them how to take care of themselves with kindness. The world was hard enough, would beat them up enough without them adding to the pain."

The story begins with sisters, Jo and Bethie. The names, of course, make me think of Little Women. Coincidental or not? I have no idea, but misplaced in this setting. The correlation, intended or imagined in my mind, does not work here.

The story is also Jo and her own daughters - the decisions, the choices, the heartbreak, and the love as it can only exist between mothers and daughters.

I appreciate the premise of this book. I even somewhat agree with the thought of women who still try and do it all and be everything to everyone. I even see the futility of that.

Yet, I end up not the reader for this book for a couple of reasons. I am not a reader for books with a lot of sexual display or discussion, and this book has both. I am also not a fan of the drug use and discussion that finds its way into this family story. Mostly, though, the book loses me because I find it to be over dramatized. To me, the need to include drama after drama and a little bit of everything that could face a woman in the book diminishes the challenges that the title of "Mrs. Everything" poses. There are challenges enough in daily life without reaching out for the extremes. The extremes leave the lasting impression rather than the strength of the women navigating the challenges.

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

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