Now that my time is ever more limited between managing a brewery and beer bar full of staff, handling marketing and promotions for my growing small business (see above) plus writing (I have 5 novels slated for 2012 alone and have a major new WIP in my head for my new publisher Ellora's Cave), posting blogs, arguing with various commenters, and so on I don't get to read as much as I'd like to.
My same mum who gave me the early life skills however, is an equally voracious reader (and an editor--so she's bloody picky) and is constantly handing me library books and her kindle encouraging me to try this or that. I rarely take her up on it anymore, having about enough energy by midnight to glare blearily at Time Magazine or something similarly liberal before passing out.
However, I grabbed a book this weekend that I want to tell you about.
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty is one of the books that allowed me to devour, savor, laugh, cry, gasp and cheer as I read it cover to cover this past Saturday. I connected with it on many levels. The main character, Alice is a happy go lucky, newly pregnant homeowner and spouse of a rising star at some vague retail department store in Sydney, Australia. Liane made me fall hard in love with her husband too. Nick is gentle, funny, madly in love with his wife and their unborn baby, but driven to succeed.
Then, suddenly she wakes up on the floor of a gym having fallen off her spinning bike (what the hell is a spinning bike? she asks herself in just one of MANY hilarious yet painful questions she must ask over the course of the next few weeks). It's ten years later. She has absolutely no memory of getting from "newly pregnant and ecstatically married" to mother of 3, too thin with worry lines and an obsession with making perfect muffins and being an over-the-top organized "class mum". And very separated, on the verge of acrimonious divorce.
Let me just preface this by saying the What Alice Forgot is a love story.
But it's a REAL love story...about a man and woman who go through life's wringer, including over-identifying with a neighbor couple, having a "surprise" third baby, handling the exhaustion of combining a quick new family with a corresponding quick rise for the husband in his job.
The way your life changes in 10 years...that's just part of it. The way you love, hate, then love again--and not just your spouse but yourself...that's the real story. The extreme disconnect that occurs between parents as one is "left at home" and other is pressured to perform outside the home is so real, it made me wince and want to go hug my spouse. The beauty of "forgetting" then "remembering" for Alice is that she sees it HIS way (when she flat out asks him why they are getting a divorce because she honestly does not remember) and then remembering it her way once her memory comes rushing back...incredible and affecting.
Defining yourself as Just a Mum is both freeing and setting yourself into a prison of your own making at the same time. I know. I've done it. Alice did it, with the help of a new friend, but when that friend's life falls apart, she lets hers go too. Until she wakes up on that gym floor and gets a second chance at it.
I am rarely (well hardly ever, okay never) gripped this hard by a book. I like to read 'em, love some hot steamy sexiness, will tolerate the occasional vampire (but am getting a jumped the shark feeling about a certain set of brothers so I've moved onto a different set of fallen angels if you don't know what I'm talking about never mind), but truly prefer my fiction sans fake happy endings.
What Alice Forgot has one, but it's not fake. It's earned. Perhaps it's because many of my books have been labeled "very realistic" and "emotionally raw" or whatever but there are a couple of incredible moments in this book that literally made me gasp, and tear up. And honest to God people I am a real cynic when it comes to being manipulated by fiction writers. It just doesn't happen to me that much. But Liane has such a facile, humorous touch with words, using just the right amount of present-day cynicism combined with wide-eyed honest WTF moments for Alice AND had me so convinced that Nick Love was an fabulous, and entirely HUMAN man I ached for these two to make it work.
And re-learning how to be that super mum, driving a "terrifyingly huge" SUV, keeping up with 3 kids' overcommitted schedules and remembering how to be the over caffeinated "bitch" she had become to her husband is handled with humor, humility, anger, frustration and sheer genius.
Whew. It wore me out this book. You will do it all: laugh (see "sex god on the motorcycle"), cry (see the amazing line "You owe me twenty bucks" near the end), and everything in between. Go read it.
NOTE: I am little ill to learn that the movie rights have been sold. Some books are better off just read, thanks to the Major Talent of the author. The Time Travelers' Wife was such a book. Seriously.
SECOND NOTE: while I am gushing over this book I am also insanely jealous that I can't write like Liane Moriarity, HOWEVER I am re-inspired to pull out my more mainstream WIP and inject a little life into it..."The Journal of a Trailing Spouse" is getting a bit of spit and polish, less anger, a bit more humor--thanks Liane.
Let the commenting fun begin. What is the last book you read that gripped you hard, made you wish you hadn't read it just so you could pick it up and read it all over again?
Have a great week.