Monday, April 04, 2016

I've got the sunshine and a few good friends I've found.

Girls' WeekendGirls' Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte, Dani, and Meg have been friends for ages-- bonding over motherhood and the issues that accompany it. However, each woman has their own problems and are reluctant to bring them up with their friends. Charlotte, a busy and successful interior designer, has a dentist husband and a loving son, but she feels like her husband, Brett, doesn't even see her anymore. Dani's life appears great -- a caring husband and two kids, but she can't quite shake the empty feelings she has. And Meg is still reeling from losing her young son two years ago; her grief remains, but everyone around her seems to have moved on. When the three women get a chance to go away for a girls' weekend, they jump at the chance, even if involves a little rearranging of schedules. But once there, they make a fateful decision: they aren't coming back home.

When reading it, the premise seems a little farfetched, but the characters in this novel immediately seem very real and the book gives a lot of little details about motherhood that lend it realism (for instance, humming annoying intro music to a children's show at inappropriate times). Each woman is different, but you can relate to a piece of each of them. I found myself liking parts of each and being frustrated with other parts - just like your actual friends.

It's probably true that parts of the book are stereotypical toward men (and fathers) -- painting them as bumbling and clueless toward their wives and children, but sadly, there is some realism to it, too. Plus, as the storyline progresses, you fixate less on this fact and realize there's more to this story than black and white. Honestly, it speaks universally to many women, especially mothers: those seeking answers in life, those feeling guilty for not being happy when life seems perfect on paper, those wondering when life simply became a series of errands. I felt like Achterberg did an excellent job of dealing with and capturing some of the quintessential problems facing the modern mom.

The book is painful to read at times, but only because it's so well-written. Your heart breaks for Meg and all she has been through. The book lags a little in the middle, but really, the women do too, as they try to figure out exactly what they should do. It is fascinating because they are doing what you can't quite imagine pulling off. My mind was racing as I read: I mean, who would really watch your kids for that long? What spouse would be OK with this? Who could leave their kids for that long? And yet, you sort of dream for the time away, envy the women as you read the novel. It's easy to empathize with them, even as you may question some of their motives.

Overall, the book was easy to read and Charlotte, Meg, and Dani were interesting and relatable characters. The book made me think (and highlight many passages). It's a fun read, but also goes deeper, too. Really enjoyed it.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere on 5/3.

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