Moriarty’s books are always darker than expected. I say it that way, because, as you’re reading her books, they don’t feel dark. They’re funny and witty and cutting. The women in the books are doing things that you (hope) you would never do, but they’re relateable because you can see into their minds and realize they’re thinking the same snarky comments that you would be thinking. They’re laughing about devastating situations and gossiping about traumatizing events. But this book doesn’t have the same lightness that the others do. It’s much sadder in tone. That’s not a bad thing, just not exactly what I was expecting from her.
I also love unconventional narrations, which this book uses. I love seeing different scenes from different perceptions, and I love when the author trusts me enough as a reader to make connections without hitting me over the head with them.
I am at the point in my life that Alice regresses to — young(-ish), married to a wonderful man, new homeowners of a house that needs some work. And I find myself relating so well to young Alice and her loving husband. As I think about the next decade of my life, this book is helping me remember not to take these things for granted. And to use face cream and not furrow my brow so much. Gotta watch out for those wrinkles.
To be honest with you, I might not have read this book if I had realized that one of the themes was infertility. As a woman who is facing the prospect of IVF, I usually shy away from books/movies/mothers/children/pregnant woman/etc (The Rosie Effect left me irrationally angry for days) — anything that has to do with getting or being pregnant or motherhood. But, in Moriarty’s unique way, this book handled that theme beautifully and realistically. I found myself relating to the woman dealing with this and thinking, “It’s okay to feel this way and to pretend like everything is fine and have days that are great but then have the loss come barreling back at you out of nowhere. That’s normal.” Or at least normal enough that a fictional character shares these same feelings with me. I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand that this was part of the book and that I read it anyway. It helped give me some validation and perspective.
In the end, I feel somewhat conflicted about this book. Conflicted in a good way, though, conflicted in the way good fiction is supposed to make you feel. I don’t love all the characters, and at times, I found I wasn’t even really rooting for Alice. Her flaws seemed too real to me. I thought I wasn’t going to like the ending, but the more I think about it, the more I’m coming around to it. This book was a good mirror of life, which is probably why I feel conflicted about it and about Alice. I sometimes feel conflicted about my life, too. And as I found myself relating to Alice, I realize that sometimes I’m conflicted with my relationship with myself, too. This book makes you examine those feelings, look at them in context and out of context, and then (hopefully) stop being so hard on yourself and try to be a little better in the coming moments.
You may also like: Landline, by Rainbow Rowell; Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple; The Devil Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger