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I Couldn’t Love You More – A Review

I do love the part of this blog that gives me the chance to read books and write about them. Really, it has always been my dream job, that although getting paid to eat would be nice, too. Just saying!

So my latest find is by Jillian Medoff, I Couldn’t Love You More, and it is a fast and emotional read that had me sometimes tsk-ing under my breath (and sometimes out loud) at the main character and her family and sometimes liking them all enormously. The story opens with a Cinderella Birthday Party gone bad and if you have ever hosted a children’s birthday party you can relate to the painstaking preparations and high expectations of the day. I liked Eliot Gordon (working mother of three) right away because of the earnestness of this party.

Eliot goes through the ups and downs of relationships with her Family of Birth (a distant yet loving mother and two very different sisters), Family of Choice (her almost husband, Grant, their 4 year old daughter Hailey, and her two step-daughters, 7 year old Gail and pushing all limits teen Charlotte), and Family by Extension and/or Other- Beth, the artistic and self-absorbed birth mother and a long-lost college love (the impossibly handsome and even more self-absorbed Finn).

I do admit becoming impatient with the wanderings of Eliot’s attention (I was impatient the last time I read Madame Bovary, too, stopping just short of wishing she would do it already, so really, it’s me). Eliot’s inability to notice that Finn is a narcissistic mess, her sister a histrionic and her mother’s disengagement is either a giant character flaw or something nicer than that. Her two main states of emotional being flip between painfully aware and checked out. I was both engaged and frustrated in equal measure – the character is believably drawn and fully realized, not some prototype which is so common in books about moms, especially step-mothers. So when Eliot becomes absorbed in a secret life with selfish Finn and her inattention leads to disaster – both the younger girls are swept out to sea on her watch. It is every mother’s nightmare but even worse, she sees no one else around to help and she can’t rescue both. I admit it, I peeked – I read ahead and then went back to fill in the parts I missed. I couldn’t bear not knowing, but no, I am not going to tell you. Read it for yourself with a nice cup of tea on a rainy day, we seem to have plenty of those around here.

Want to know more? Here is the Kirkus Review link.

A Great Day brought to me by InterfaithFamily.com

The start of most spam I get these days starts with “I won an iPad and you can, too” – Well, I won a gift certificate from Interfaithfamily.com and, no, you can’t win one, too. Well, not now, maybe next time. I filled out their Passover/Easter survey and I, who never win anything – wait, I say that but I did win that boxed set of Almaden wine in college (that was in…1983), and then there was a really long dry spell and I didn’t win anything until 2000 when I won a backpack from Whole Foods and then I won another backpack from REI last year …does this mean the universe wants me to hike?

My husband asked what my plans were for the money (see above) then I thought …maybe I should save it? Pay for some college or retirement? …and then I said, Nah…Let’s go shopping! I am going to spend some and save some (just like we are always instructing our children to do). Ahem.

So thank you, Interfaith Family (my go-to site for interfaith questions and great articles). I am either getting new outdoor chairs for the patio, tons of books or some super cute shoes…to hike in.

Great Day

Without sounding all spammy, I won a gift certificate from interfaith family.com and no, you can’t win one, too, week, not now, because it is over and I won! I, who never win anything – wow, I say that but I did win that boxed set of Almaden wine in college, and a backpack from whole foods in 1999 and another backpack from REI last year – I think the universe wants me to hike.

The Underside of Joy

If left to my own devices, you would find me curled up in a chair with a good book and a bowl of apples…wait, that would be Jo March from Little Women…Who am I kidding? I would have a plate bag of cookies and a nice cup of tea. When I get my hands on a good book, I don’t like to let go until I am finished at the expense of other work…yes, I sometimes neglect the laundry (but never the dog because she stares at me when she needs to go out and not even I can read through that). And the book, this book, I could not put down.

The book lets you share an idyllic morning with a mom, Ella, and her two very young and cherished children.  Given the title you know their joy will be short-lived – it is fractured by the accidental death of  her adored husband and the children’s father. While Ella is clearly Mama, she is not the birth mother of these children. The birth mother returns in the form of Paige, beautiful and seemingly cool, which puts the already shaken Ella into a tailspin.  As if this isn’t enough to bear, Ella discovers that her husband was keeping more than one secret from her.

The resilience, integrity and love exhibited by the characters in this book is striking. You are naturally on Ella’s side against the interloper, Paige, who walked out on her family. Luckily, as in life, nothing is ever so neat and you are drawn into the lives and loves of these two women. A complex, well-developed book that involves sensitive topics (post-partum depression and psychosis) that are artfully interwoven, never taking over the story and never losing the focus of the heart of this family and this story, the children. A sensitive portrayal of a wonderful family, one that is accepting, supportive and loving.

I received a copy of this book but no compensation for this review.
The Underside of Joy

by Sere Prince Halverson

Find out more about the author here at her website and on her blog, and like her on Facebook.

 

 

 

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