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.