Fiction: Women’s fiction, LGBTQ
Tone: Literary, serious, historical aspects, FYI-includes scenes with drug use, sex, molestation, and rape
Take Away: A story about how the changes in women’s roles affects the lives of two sisters.
How I discovered this title: Recommended on Goodreads
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What I liked
In Jennifer Weiner’s novel, Mrs. Everything, two sisters follow unexpected paths from their childhood in the 1950’s to the present day. Issues such as abortion, molestation, sexual identity, and feminism affect and alter the lives of Jo and Bethie as they struggle to support and understand each other.
Jennifer Weiner skillfully recreates societal expectations for girls and women in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a man’s world and women had few professional options. Daughters were raised to be pretty enough to attract a husband and efficient enough to run a household. Women often lacked the power to earn an income or control decisions about their own bodies. She includes vital details that women younger than I might not have experienced or imagined. We then see how Jo’s daughters face modern versions of the same issues-family, children, work, sexuality. I suggest this book to anyone interested in the emotional history of feminism.
What I disliked
I chose the book after a cursory glance at the “Summer Read” recommendations on Goodreads. I assumed the list included breezy beach or fun chick-lit titles, such as Sophie Kinsella’s, I Owe You One (see my review here.) I’m not opposed to literary or serious novels, but even the title, Mrs. Everything, reminded me of other fiction books I recently finished. (See these reviews: I’m Fine and Neither are You, by Camille Pagán , and The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kim Harms.) Without further investigation, I was unprepared for the serious tone and issues. This is my oversight and doesn’t reflect negatively on the work itself. I learned my lesson-read ALL the promo copy!
I also disliked that the story began in the present with Jo as an adult, and then flashed back to her childhood in the 1950’s. I may be spoiled by current trends, but I expected the story to return to the present. (Yes, I am a fan of the television show This is Us where each episode contains the past, present, and future.) I also enjoyed the alternating technique in Chris Kattan’s book. (See my review of Baby Don’t hurt me and Scars from Saturday Night Live here). I originally assumed the story was about Jo’s diagnosis and waited impatiently for that part of the story to resume.
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