by Rebecca Land Soodak
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: 5 Spot; Original edition (March 27, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446574260
- ISBN-13: 978-0446574266
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Kara Caine Lawson has worked hard to become the woman she is-wife, mother and successful shop owner. Having survived a turbulent childhood, Kara understands that life could've just as easily gone another way . . . and even if she isn't gliding through the trials of lost library books, entitled customers and routine date nights, at least she's not sipping a Dewar's all day like her mother did.
But then Kara unexpectedly encounters paintings by her now-famous college boyfriend just as she's beginning to suspect that her daughter Henny's difficulties may be the sign of something serious, and all of her past decisions are thrown into dramatic relief.
Kara's narration, at turns heartbreaking and hilarious, captures the imperfect thoughts we have about ourselves and those around us. Rebecca Land Soodak's debut novel asks the difficult questions about the choices we make while revealing the minute details that end up defining our lives.
Review:This story is told in first person by Kara, a forty-ish wife and mother of three children, Adam, aged 10, Henny age 7, and Max a 3 year old toddler. Kara is part owner in a successful children’s hair salon, Little Scissors, located in Upper East Side, New York.
When Kara sees a gallery show of art from her college boyfriend, Oliver, she becomes conflicted. What if she had pursued her own painting desires instead of marrying, having children and opening the salon with Willa? Are the nannys she hires good for her children and is she being a good mother providing a nanny as well as dividing her time between the children and her business?
Her business partner, Willa, with the help of Willa’s new personal partner, Victoria, a Public Relations specialist, is looking to move the shop location and expand the business. Kara’s comfortable husband of many years, Michael, is a successful architect and his business is also looking to grow and expand to global customers. Kara is resistant to Willa’s ideas for expansion and she is even more resistant when Michael proposes that they move to Los Angeles. What direction does Kara want for her life now that she is being pulled in so many directions?
Kara’s dilemma is really the story but Henny’s behavior brings to focus some issues that were never known or recognized for Kara. When Henny shows difficulty in reading and keeping up with other children of her age Kara becomes concerned and finally seeks evaluation that reveals a learning disorder.
Kara’s close friend Morgan adds to Kara’s confusion as Morgan pursues a growing affair because of the excitement she finds. Kara doesn’t approve even though she has some admiration for Morgan’s confidence and vitality. Morgan is the one who encourages Kara to take a deeper look at her own dreams and desires.
The story rocks in time from Kara’s current day conflicts in 2007-2008, her college affair from 1982 to 1987 and her childhood years in the '70s when she struggled growing up with a “has been” starlet mother who spirals down into alcoholism. Each chapter announces the year so the reader can easily identify the time-line and characters for that period. I enjoyed this method of developing Kara’s character by showing her difficult childhood that carried into her shyness and neediness in the college affair, as well as her doubts and conflicting emotions in her current circumstances.
Although I thought the book started a little slowly, after passing the mid point I was anxious to read on to learn what would happen. The story is very well written and easy to read. I like to stretch my reading to include fiction that I might not otherwise read. Choosing this book was one of those stretches as it is not a genre I read a lot. I found it interesting but I have to acknowledge that, for entertainment and relaxation, I prefer fantasy fiction to real life drama fiction. Those who appreciate the internal struggles of artists would enjoy Ms. Soodak's emotional debut.
Kara's thoughts to consider:
Comments on Oliver:
...Being around him alters me. It doesn’t matter if this monumental change is microscopic, invisible to the human eye....I’m no longer the same. I always wanted to be...no longer the same. Page 27.
Early wisdom -viewing life as a movie at age 10:
Without even trying, I realize something about my movie. It doesn’t matter if I’m moving toward something or trying to get away. I may only be ten years old, but I’m suddenly aware that there’s little difference between the two. Page 67
Talking to Morgan about current day, grown up stuff:
“...You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Husband. Three kids. Businesses. Partners. Mortgages. Homes. It’s all so...substantial. Very high-stakes, grown-up decisions.” Page 199
Thank you to Hachette for providing this book for review.This is set in New York for my Where Are You Reading Challenge. I will also add it to the ARC and New Author challenge lists.
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