by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Dang! Well done. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book because I’ve read mixed reviews. People either seem to love it or hate it. And I can see why now that I’ve finished it. I listened to the audiobook, which was expertly narrated.
This book deals with marriage, divorce, child rearing, navigating midlife, yearning for the past, power dynamics within a relationship, roles of men and women in marriage and society, careers, wealth, sex, and more. The setting is NYC, which appealed to me as a native New Yorker, and as someone that used to live and work in the city. At first, I thought it was omniscient point of view, but if you stick with it, it is revealed that the narrator is actually a college friend of Toby Fleischman, the protagonist, who is married to and then divorced from Rachel Fleischman, his wife. It is raw, revealing, introspective, and reflective. The writing is superb. The author is a long time journalist and writer, and even though this is her debut novel, you can absolutely tell that it isn’t her first rodeo when it comes to great writing. There is a lot of sex, drugs, dissatisfaction, angst, whining, and privilege. So I can see why some people wanted to look away, especially when you add to the mix some unlikable characters. And yet, and yet (taking a page out of one of the author’s favorite phrases in the book!!) — I could not look away, and was riveted to the story, the characters, and the writing. I also found myself reflecting on a lot of the musings of the characters. In that sense, the book feels impactful.
I’m planning to watch the television series adaptation. It is well casted and I’m curious to see if I like it after reading the book.