A satirical swipe at the Park Slope Crowd of parents reveals promiscuity, secrets, despair and, oh yes, child care.
In her fourth novel, Sohn (Prospect Park West, 2009, etc.) brings a satirical, soapy yet downbeat focus to the Brooklyn suburb where an Upper West Side and East Village group has relocated “with resignation, for the children’s benefit.” Rebecca, wife of Theo, is concealing the fact that her second child is not her husband’s; Marco, husband of Todd, is feeling increasingly trapped and unhappy as a gay father of two. Theo and Marco are good fathers, but elsewhere the children can seem patchily parented as the grown-ups flirt, kvetch, cruise via their iPhones, fall off the wagon and variously transgress in their preoccupation with personal fulfillment. Sohn’s one-liners add wit and her media insider’s perspective contributes a further layer of dry—if not wholly relevant—commentary. Her cast of characters is neither especially attractive nor sympathetic, not even the crazed stroller-thief, an older resident understandably exasperated by the new neighborhood sidewalk traffic. While the plotlines interknit implausibly (in one case, jaw-droppingly so), relationships reconfigure; some failing, some igniting. Are life lessons learned? Maybe one or two.
A smart but soulless social survey which, despite the title, seems more interested in celebrities and explicit sex.