What I’m Reading: Mrs. Everything

Mrs. EverythingFrom the book jacket:

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

My review:

Okay, while I didn’t LOVE love Mrs. Everything I did really enjoy it and had the hardest time putting it down some nights. It’s more than a book about women’s rights and by the end I found myself tearing up just a little because I found myself relating to it.

I think if I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would precisely be “Relatable.” I don’t believe there was a single women’s issue that was glanced over in this book, and at some point any female (or perhaps even male) reader can stop and think, “Wait, I’ve been there. I can relate.” From the desperate housewife to the liberated feminist, there was a trait you could identify with.

Jennifer Weiner managed to blend all these different issues in a way that wasn’t choppy or unbelievable. You have to remind yourself while reading that the storyline takes place in a time where there was no #LoveIsLove or #MeToo. You weren’t free to love whomever you wanted (male, female, Christian, Jew, African-American, etc.) and unwanted sexual advances were something that were swept under the rug and kept quiet with hush money.

It’s important to remember that even though the main storyline takes place 50-60 year ago, we are still fighting a lot of the same issues. Mrs. Everything is an important read to remind us of that the past isn’t necessary in the past.

My rating: ★★★★/5

What I’M Reading: Who Do You Love

From Goodreads.com:
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along.

With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you’ll never forget.

My review:
First of all, can I just say how pathetic it is that I haven’t read a book since April? Sad, sad, sad. Honestly, there just hasn’t been anything out there that has piqued my interest, but I knew Jennifer Weiner was coming out with a new book in the summer, so I held off.

I’m glad I did! Jennifer Weiner’s newest novel did not disappoint and was just what I needed as a post-baby pick-me-up. It was an easy read but an enjoyable one, and I finished the book (which I had bought and downloaded for my Kobo the day it was released) in just over a week! Not bad considering I only read it while I was nursing Norah; I even switched lamps around so I had better lighting and could see the screen, that’s how much I liked the book!

While the ending was rather predictable, as it is with the majority of romance stories of any form, I couldn’t help but still cheer for the two main characters, Rachel and Andy, to find their way back into each other’s arms. Their story of high school romance hit close to home for me, with Kyle and I being high school sweethearts, and I found myself with my fingers all crossed for them to cross paths just one more time.

What don’t I like about the story? Not much, however, I do wish that we got to know a bit more about Andy and his background. His “chapters” were more subdued, just like his character, and I wish more was revealed about his background. Still, I couldn’t help but love the way things worked out for both him and Rachel in the end.

Overall, I’m going to give Who Do You Love 5 stars out of 5. I can safely place it amongst my top three favourite Jennifer Weiner books.

What I’m Reading: All Fall Down

What I'm Reading copy

From Goodreads.com:
Allison Weiss has a great job…a handsome husband…an adorable daughter…and a secret.

Allison Weiss is a typical working mother, trying to balance a business, aging parents, a demanding daughter, and a marriage. But when the website she develops takes off, she finds herself challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Her husband’s becoming distant, her daughter’s acting spoiled, her father is dealing with early Alzheimer’s, and her mother’s barely dealing at all. As she struggles to hold her home and work life together, and meet all of the needs of the people around her, Allison finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for a back injury help her deal with more than just physical discomfort—they help her feel calm and get her through her increasingly hectic days. Sure, she worries a bit that the bottles seem to empty a bit faster each week, but it’s not like she’s some Hollywood starlet partying all night, or a homeless person who’s lost everything. It’s not as if she has an actual problem.

However, when Allison’s use gets to the point that she can no longer control—or hide—it, she ends up in a world she never thought she’d experience outside of a movie theater: rehab. Amid the teenage heroin addicts, the alcoholic grandmothers, the barely-trained “recovery coaches,” and the counselors who seem to believe that one mode of recovery fits all, Allison struggles to get her life back on track, even as she’s convincing herself that she’s not as bad off as the women around her.

With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, All Fall Down is a tale of empowerment and redemption and Jennifer Weiner’s richest, most absorbing and timely story yet.

My review:
I was really looking forward to this new book by Jennifer Weiner. It had been a while since I had read of of her novels, so when I caught wind last year that All Fall Down was being released in 2014, I got pretty excited for it.

As a whole, I thought All Fall Down was a decent read. I wanted the main character, Allison, to “win”, but I had a hard time sympathizing for her. Her situation really wasn’t as awful as she made it out to be; she just seemed like your typical Desperate/Real Housewife. Her “woe is me” story didn’t phase on me at all and I think she got off a little too easily with her mistakes. She lost nothing because of her mistakes, other than perhaps her husband, but it seemed like that was bound to happen regardless of her behaviours.

That’s not to say that the hidden message within the pages of the book isn’t important. Allison was lucky enough to be addicted to “just painkillers” before she got carried away into a darker world of heavier substances. I think the story could have been a bit more intense if Allison really did have a true “rock bottom.” Like I said before, other than her marriage, which was seemingly already circling the drain, and perhaps some serious judgement from her daughter’s teacher, Allison didn’t lose anything.

Maybe that’s the point that Weiner was trying to get across – that sometimes we don’t really notice how good we actually have it until you’re surround by others who are less fortunate.

It was different to read something other than your stereotypical chick-lit from Weiner, but refreshing as well. I like surprises from authors, and while I didn’t LOVE love All fall down, I did enjoy it overall. I’m going to give it 3 out of 5 stars. I felt a little duped at the end, that the story could have gone on for a couple more chapters so it didn’t feel like there were so many loose ends.