by Ayelet Waldman
Being a stepmom is difficult; being a stepmom after losing a child is nearly impossible. Such is the premise of Waldman’s wonderful and brutally honest novel.
Emilia Greenleaf is not the perfect stepmom. She is filled with grief for the loss of her baby, Isabel, and everyone expects her to go on as though nothing ever happened. Well, she can’t. She never could abide her stepson, William, who is five years old and a know-it-all. And she really cannot stand William’s mother, Carolyn, who clearly hates Emilia for wrecking her marriage.
On top of everything, Emilia is honest about her feelings. She thinks that William’s so-called lactose intolerance is bullsh*t, and she says so. She thinks that her husband, Jack, ought to recognize and punish his son’s bad behavior, and she says so. And she is very alone for being so open with her feelings. Of course, her honesty is about to cost her everything.
How can she save her marriage? How can she be a better stepmom? How can she heal after the loss of her infant? She’ll need a little help from her nemesis, William. And she’ll realize that she really does love that boy, more than anyone will ever know.
I loved the honesty of Emilia. Her character is a real person with real feelings. She is not ugly or unlikable; she is merely truthful.