Jami Attenberg's (The Middlesteins) short sharp novel of a woman about to turn 40 is funny and smart. Her protagonist, Andrea Bern, is single, childless, not in any sort of sustaining love relationship, and works at a job that she doesn't much like but is good at. Over twenty time-skipping chapters we learn the many layers of life experience that have shaped Andrea from childhood to the present. I admit, particularly in the opening chapters, to an impatience with Andrea and her sometimes willful selfishness. But this book reveals many of the conundrums women now face in America trying to simply "have a life" instead of striving to "have it all". It also sheds a harsh-- and often fiercely comic --light on women of all ages dealing with predatory or self-absorbed men.
I started this book (it is only 200 pages long) a couple of weeks ago and had to set it aside briefly. I finished the last 130 pages in one gulp on a plane flight, and at the book's conclusion tears streamed from my eyes. It gathers potent weight about life's choices, and I was rooting hard for Andrea through my tears. Oddly, the very next morning as I walked my dog while listening to Morning Edition, Attenberg was interviewed (listen to it HERE) and said the following,
"I like the idea of somebody buying it in an airport on one end of a trip, and then finishing it by the end of the trip--and sort of sobbing on the plane too, that would be a little fantasy of mine as well."
Happy to complete the circle for you, Jami. Thanks for the terrific book!