In this novel, a woman deals with the death of a friend, an unsatisfying marriage, cross-country moves, single motherhood and a new love as she tries to build a life of her own.
Judy, mother of two young children and wife of Tony, a demanding Mexican doctor, enters a tailspin after the climbing death of a friend during a day at Joshua Tree National Park. Did he commit suicide? Could she have helped him if she’d taken the time to talk? The thought that she somehow failed him leads her to reconsider her life, agonizing over the deficiencies of a marriage that has never been ideal. Her tears push Judy farther away from Tony, whose machismo demands a smiling, obedient wife, and even leads to an act of marital rape. Claiming to be taking the children on a trip to Tennessee to visit the parents Judy rarely sees, she’s actually leaving Tony—which also means giving up the friends who have been her support. Back in the South, she must finally confront the death of her younger brother years ago, her fraught relationship with her mother, her divorce from Tony and subsequent financial worries, and the possibility of a new life with Alex, an engineer dealing with his own issues. While Judy can be compelling, her constant introspection often becomes tedious. For what is a fairly conventional story of a woman finding herself over a period of 10 only occasionally eventful years, readers may tire of so much teeth gnashing and rehashing of the past. The biblical references—the book’s parts are called “Genesis,” “Exodus,” “Song of Solomon” and “Revelation”—seem to be at odds with the repeated mention of Judy’s loss of faith. Alex’s breakdown in Hawaii comes out of nowhere, and his emotional problems disappear just as quickly. In the slow middle parts, more showing rather than telling would break up lengthy paragraphs and help make the story read less like a disguised memoir.
Affecting, but not engaging enough for its length.