Author: Katharine Noel
Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat
Paperback: 288 pages
Source: BEA 2016
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Claire has never had a typical family. When she was nine, her father fell in love with a married woman, and the two households agreed to live under one roof. Nicknamed “the Naked Family,” they were infamous in the community for their eccentric, free-spirited lifestyle. Now, her stepsister Nicole has set her mind to having a baby on her own, and Claire’s husband is enthusiastic about starting a family as well. But Claire wants to avoid an ordinary existence at all costs. Then Jeremy becomes seriously ill, and his high-school sweetheart Gita is a bit too eager to lend a hand in his recovery. As Claire’s suspicion of their relationship grows, she feels more distant from the people she loves. Faced with Nicole’s pregnancy and Jeremy’s increasing closeness with his ex, Claire must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice for independence.
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at BEA 2016. This is an honest review.*
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
This is an interesting book that deals with the simple realities of life, especially focusing on relationships and how they define a person. This book focuses on Claire, who had an interesting childhood growing up, but that is simply a backdrop to the main story of Claire’s faltering relationship with her husband, which affects everything she does within the main storyline. As her relationship because more distant, she is increasingly aware of just how much of her life revolves around her husband and the life that they made together and she’s faced with the same choice her parents had to make when she was a child: does she rip it apart and start fresh, or does she try to live with the changing reality?
Aside from a few main plot points, like Claire’s husband Jeremy being hospitalized, and Claire’s sister getting pregnant, not a whole lot really happens in this book. It’s mostly an introspective journey that the reader takes with Claire, who is forced to re-examine everything about her life. I enjoyed it for its gritty reality in showing how relationships often work. Neither Claire nor Jeremy are perfect people; nobody is ever perfectly right, and they both commit wrongs on each other. Claire isn’t the sainted wife dutifully taking care of her husband in ICU, she is certainly doing that, but it takes its toll on her and she and Jeremy both end up a little snippy with each other because of how exhausted and miserable they both are. My favorite scene is one where Claire is reaching her breaking point with Jeremy and his new closeness with his ex, so she sets a trap for him. No, it’s not mature, but I don’t know any adult who would be perfectly mature in her situation, so I appreciated it for its reality.
Mainly, I appreciated this novel for its ability to allow me to reflect on my own life and my own concepts about relationships and what I find important in them. This was a hard, sad story, but it contains ideas that everyone can appreciate, even if they don’t agree with the character’s choices or reactions. If you’re looking for a more reflective sort of story that explores what relationships (including friendships and family relationships) entail and how they evolve, then definitely give this a try.