Poet-novelist Sones, whose previous work was aimed at teens (What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know, 2007, etc.), focuses on their moms in her newest verse novel about the crises facing a woman as she turns 50.
The poems, most no more than a page, follow California poet Holly as she struggles to finish her book of poetry. Holly is anxiety-ridden, not only because she can’t avoid the physical “skidmarks” of age as she approaches 50, but also because her adored only daughter Sam is a high-school senior getting ready to leave Holly and her artist husband Michael empty-nesters. Then Holly’s loving and beloved mother’s health begins to fail in Cleveland, and guilt-ridden Holly must manage her medical care from afar. After a remarkably easy transition—Sam is the kind of fictional girl who skips a party with her friends to bake brownies (recipe included) for her grandmother and then snuggles up to watch TV with her mom—Sam heads off to college. Suddenly Holly’s marriage to Michael seems less than rock solid. First she suspects he is having an affair with one of her friends, though in classic sitcom plotting he’s actually been meeting with the other woman because she runs an animal shelter and he’s planning to surprise Holly with a new kitty. Then visiting her mother, Holly is tempted by but resists sexual advances from her mother’s doctor. When Michael is rushed to the hospital in great pain, his kidney stones become Holly’s poetic metaphor for their minor marital problems. Soon Holly’s mom is doing better, Sam is calling home frequently from college on the East Coast, and Holly’s editor loves her finished book. (Surprisingly for a poet married to an artist, one problem Holly doesn’t seem to have is financial; there are shopping sprees to the store nicely marketed in the title and no worries about where Sam’s tuition will come from.)
Midlife chick lit in verse that contains an equal measure of clever lines and clinkers.