Sunday, April 26, 2015
The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer
Published March 2008 by Penguin Group
Source: this one was all mine
For a group of four New York friends the past decade has been defined largely by marriage and motherhood, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, they had been told that their generation would be different. And for a while this was true. They went to good colleges and began high-powered careers. But after marriage and babies, for a variety of reasons, they decided to stay home, temporarily, to raise their children. Now, ten years later, they are still at home, unsure how they came to inhabit lives so different from the ones they expected—until a new series of events begins to change the landscape of their lives yet again, in ways they couldn’t have predicted.
Okay, okay, I know she's something of a media darling but listening to this book almost made me want to take a ten-year nap. That is all.
What? You want to know why?
For one thing, I always take exception to authors who want to "bad mouth" women who choose to stay home to raise their children. Because I did. I never gave up a high-powered job; I didn't fall off the fast track in choosing to stay home. But it did hurt my job prospects when I tried to get back in the work force after almost ten years away from it.
Sure, there were times when I got tired of cutting other people's food, picking up toys twenty-four seven, and hearing the word "mom." And, oh, how I craved adult conversation! But I don't ever regret my decision. I know, in my heart, that it is one of the reasons my three are so close now and why they are so close to me. So when Wolitzer wants to make it seem like every woman who ever made the choice (or had that choice made for her), regrets it to at least some extent, my hackles get raised. What's more, I think it only serves to make the divide between working moms and "stay-at-home" moms wider.
The publisher called Wolitzer's writing "wickedly observant" and "knowing." Me, not so much. Although all of her characters had different backgrounds and families, they all felt a bit generic to me. And those four friends? Yeah, the book is about so many more women than those four friends; in fact, Wolitzer is still bringing new characters into the story nearly right up to the end of the book, pulling me away from that core story line as she tries to explain to her readers how these four friends, and all of the women of their generation squandered the advances the generation before them had made for women. That kind of guilt I don't need (I'm carrying quite enough of it around already, thank you very much).
About midway through this one, my friend Mari reminded me that neither of us had liked Wolitzer's The Uncoupling very much. I should have given that more thought and moved on. Because even though I was trapped in the car anyway, I could certainly have been listening to something I enjoyed a lot more.