Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, by Ruth Pennebaker
My review: 1 of 5 stars
I picked up this book at the library (on the "new" shelf) and decided to read it, mostly based on the recommendation of Sarah Bird, a talented Texas writer. Ruth Pennebaker is another writer from Texas. According to the book jacket she is a commentator for an NPR facilitator and keeps a blog (which looks much better than her novel!).
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is about a trio of generations living under the same roof. Joanie is mom to Caroline and daughter to Ivy, and they all want to tear each other to bits. Caroline is a sullen teenager, Ivy is an overly critical older woman, and Joanie is a sad, bitter divorcee. The life she was holding together by shreds comes crashing around her when her ex-husband announces that his new girlfriend is having a baby.
I found the writing and story to be overly simple, the characters one-dimensional, and the interactions between them grating. Perhaps this is meant to be written in such a way, and I just have no appreciation for it...sort of like Hemingway. (I can't stand Hemingway.)
Or maybe it's that I have a wonderful relationship with my own mother and can't imagine living my life in battle with those around me. I could not relate to the characters at all. Ivy, in particular, I found to be downright grating.
One thing I found completely implausible is that Joanie was out of the workforce for 20 years (and has minimal computer skills) and then she lands a plum job in the advertising industry. Never going to happen.
I read to page 100 or so, and then gave up. Life is too short to waste on mindless books that don't give us at least some amount of pleasure.
My only conclusion is that Sarah Bird must be biased in some way--perhaps she personally knows the author, or she was just being polite.