Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Book Review: Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

This was my latest audio book and, with 13 cassettes, there was a lot of listening to do. I have to say that listening to cassettes rather than on my mp3 player was rather a bummer what with how bulky the tape player is, remembering to take the next cassette or two along and having to change change sides and cassettes all the time. Still, I listened when I was by myself in the car and got to use the car stereo, which was nice, and listened on walks and while doing chores, as usual. In spite of the minor inconveniences, I enjoyed the book.

The narrator, at for the non-abridged release I listened to (I see online that the author does an abridged reading, as well), is Johanna Parker, who did a nice job with the different personalities, helping to bring the women to life.

Little Earthquakes is the story of four new mothers, although one of the new mothers, tragically, doesn't have a baby, due to her son's demise from SID, which prompts her to flee her life in California to go back home to Philadelphia. It's in Philadelphia that she eventually becomes part of a group of three mothers who became friends when one of them goes into labor at a prenatal yoga class. With her husband out of town, the other two pregnant ladies become her support for the birth.

The four women each have a life and issues of her own. Lia, the mom from California and an emerging actress, is, of course, struggling to deal with the loss of her son, but also with her estranged mother and the fact that she fled not only from California, but also from her husband.

Ayinde, the mother who went into labor while her husband was out of town, is married to a basketball superstar who was just transferred to Philadelphia. Not only is she having to deal with being uprooted from her home in Texas, where she was a newscaster, but also the challenges of juggling being a mom and wife and all the issues that come with being the wife of a celebrity.

Becky, a chef and co-owner of a small but popular restaurant, is also the wife of a doctor. She struggles with issues relating to being overweight and having a seriously overbearing mother in law.

Kelly is from a large and very poor family who's mother was an alcoholic. Her reaction to that has been to make sure everything is just perfect in her life and that her son will have everything he needs and wants and that it will all be new. Her husband is laid off from his high powered job in business just before their son is born. Kelly, feeling desperate for financial security, goes back to work as a high end event planner after only 12 weeks, when she'd originally planned on taking a year off to be with her baby. It eats away at her that her husband is sitting on the couch all day while she's struggling to do it all.

These four women with diverse backgrounds, all have their struggles, yes, and sometimes these struggles seem a little too overblown for my taste. There were times I wanted to tell the characters to just get a grip. However, the story, over all is touching filled with humor, as well as the struggles. Things come together nicely in the end without feeling too much like a wand was waved to make it all better.

I really enjoyed the interplay of the women and their developing friendship, as well as the realistic portrayal of the trials and joys of new motherhood. I give Little Earthquakes an 8.

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