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BESIDE HERSELF by Elizabeth  LaBan


by Elizabeth LaBan

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5420-9372-9
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

After her husband cheats on her, a woman attempts her own affair to settle the score.

Hannah thinks she and her husband, Joel, have a happy marriage. That is, until she snoops on his phone to find out if he’s planning a surprise birthday party for her and discovers the unthinkable—he's cheated on her. Joel swears it was a one-time thing and urges Hannah into couples counseling, but Hannah can’t put it behind her. So she proposes a radical solution: She’ll have an affair of her own, just to make things even. Joel, desperate to convince Hannah that he’s sorry, agrees to her preposterous plan. Hannah’s problem? She doesn’t really want to have an affair, but her anger and unquenchable desire for revenge push her to sign up for dating apps and suffer through some abysmal first dates. Hannah’s frustration also stems from the fact that she’s the de facto contact person for Joel’s father, who’s in a nursing home. When Hannah learns that Joel’s parents went through relationship difficulties but remained married, she starts to think that perhaps she should give Joel another chance. Hannah’s best friend, who’s going through her own miserable divorce, encourages Hannah to work things out with Joel. Hannah isn’t sure what to do—despite all her bad dates, she does feel some chemistry with Reuben, the kind, charming social worker at her father-in-law’s nursing home. But eventually, Hannah has to do what’s best for her family—and, most importantly, for her. It’s difficult to invoke sympathy for a man who cheats on his wife and a woman attempting to cheat on her husband, but LaBan (Not Perfect, 2018, etc.) pulls it off. Given the situation, Hannah’s rage makes complete sense, and LaBan provides enough details about Hannah and Joel’s past to help readers see why Hannah would struggle with the idea of leaving him. Refreshingly, LaBan resists making any of her characters into stereotypical villains, instead painting them as complex, flawed human beings.

A moving look at the heartbreaks and high points of a long relationship.