My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Chick Lit
“It had never crossed her mind that sending your child to school would be like going back to school yourself.”
The new school year is starting. We follow the stories of three kindergarten mothers, each far more complicated than first impressions might give.
Madeline is fiery, confrontational, and very stylish. As luck (or not) would have it, her ex-husband’s child is beginning school with Madeline’s daughter. On top of that awkwardness, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to begin preferring her father and new step-mother, which is a calamity that Madeline is pretending to be okay with. (Anyone who has been divorced or is a child of divorce will feel a lot of truth from Madeline’s experiences, at least in a small way.)
Celeste is a stunning, albeit spacey, wife of an ultra-successful, handsome businessman. They are a star couple: when they walk in a room, it’s like a movie star couple arriving at the Oscars. Celeste is broken, though, and the reason, unlike Celeste herself, is very ugly.
Finally, Jane has moved to town on a whim. She’s a very young single mother, trying to give her son a comfortable, stable life, but feeling like she’s failing in everything she does. The reasons for her issues and insecurity go much deeper than we first think.
I will admit that any summary I’ve read for this book makes it seem trite. Like an easy-to-digest beach read that is equivalent to a mouthful of bubblegum.
But this book is so much more.
This book hits on so many of the modern day struggles that we go through every. single. day. Mom shaming, how to make friends, how to deal with the confrontational people you can’t get away from, how we use social media to paint a picture that is very different from reality, and how we hold our secrets dangerously close to us.
I also want to say this: I don’t think I have ever read a book that so perfectly deals with characterization the way this one does. Each of the characters in this book feels like a real person, to the point where I could tell you each of their strengths, weaknesses, and personality quirks. Not in a canned way, either. Everything about their personalities is important to the story.
It’s flawless. I love it.
While each of the three main women is interesting, I loved Madeline’s husband Ed. He is kind and patient, but also incredibly observant. I loved that he was the only person to truly know how damaged both Celeste and Jane were, even if he didn’t know why.
Also, there were so many times I couldn’t stop laughing. At the things the women thought about, at Ed (in the best way), and the things their children would say and do:
“There’s Chloe and Ziggy!” said Josh.
“Let’s go kill them!” said Max.
“Boys, don’t talk like that!” said Celeste. Good God. What would people think?
“Just pretend-killing, Mummy,” said Josh kindly. “Chloe and Ziggy like it!” (110)
Also, I (very loudly) gasped at the end at the Big Reveal. I don’t know how you couldn’t be shocked. I totally didn’t see that coming.
If I haven’t made it clear enough, this book is good. It’s funny, so sad, and completely engrossing. There is so much truth here.