The ""realities"" are those that cling to the life of 32-year-old Jennifer Weaver: mothering two children, maintaining a job at a geriatric-care facility, and making a new life in California for herself after the suicide back East of accountant husband Richard (he was despondent over crumbling personal Finances). Raising the kids--Catherine is a perfectionist, Matthew's a stutterer--is hard, with constant and unprovided-for daily trials; when Matthew wins a thousand dollars from a supermarket-sponsored TV racing game, for instance, Jennifer must climb down off the moral high ground of her disapproval of such games, claiming the winning ticket as her own so that the boy can get his dough. Likewise, when Jennifer is shyster-ishly hustled by a car dealer, she finds herself way out of character but determined to get revenge (by custom-made bumper-sticker, it so happens). Managing her first affair, visits from stern Mother: this is Jennifer's life. Yet except for a compelling, quite touching scene toward the end--when Jennifer, mostly out of mercy, tells the terribly confused Matthew how his father actually died--Schwartz's first novel remains earnest and rather dull, with none of the vivid specifics or narrative artistry of David Madden's comparable The Suicide's Wife. Some readers will certainly identify with the familiar woman-going-it-alone situations; otherwise, however, an admirably unpretentious but mostly undistinguished debut.