Book Review: Outtakes from a Marriage by Ann Leary

Second book review of the night…I’m on a roll!

Before I start this review, let me preface by saying that I no longer read the inside covers of a book to determine if I’m going to read it.  I go to the library, quickly scan the covers, and proceed directly to check-out.  I do not pass “Go” and I do not collect $200.  I don’t have a lot of time to read cover after cover spending hours up and down the aisles.  I grab a few books and go.

On my last trip to the library, I was most excited to read this one, Outtakes from a Marriage.  I was picturing funny bloopers seen at the end of movies and thought this book would read that way.  Short little anecdotes covering the ups, downs, and in-betweens of a normal marriage.  Sadly, I was wrong.  This book isn’t like that at all.  (Though I was surprised to find out later that this book is actually written by comedian Dennis Leary’s wife, Ann.)

Outtakes from a Marriage really is a novel (duh, says so right on the cover).   And it is about a marriage – just not one I can relate to.  This book tells the story about an actor and his wife, uncovering the infidelities of said actor.  Just think Brad Pitt and the Jennifer Aniston scandal.  The wife, Julia, is a paranoid, message-obsessed phone stalker, constantly trying to catch her husband, well-known actor, Joe Ferraro, in a lie, or with his mistress.  I felt sorry for Julia in this novel, she was no confident heroine.

I was definitely disappointed with this book – probably my own fault though.  The hype (in my head) is never as good as the real thing.

I do have a good excerpt from Outtakes though – and this one is totally relatable (pg. 180):

“I walked home wondering why, in my youth, I used to get so terribly annoyed by the catcalls from workers on construction sites or from gangs of teenagers lurking on corners.  I had no idea then that one day I would no longer be noticed by men at all.  I would become, as far as most men were concerned, invisible.”

I’d rate this book a 2 out of 5.


Book Review: Fragile by Lisa Unger

I finally finished another book!  Well, actually…I finished two books.  And I finished he first one last weekend.  But, whatever, I just haven’t had the time to write.  So now I’ve made myself comfy, poured myself a drink, and I’m ready to write.

Fragile by Lisa Unger is a good book.  A really good book.  I was surprised at how much I liked it.  The book focuses on a missing girl that takes place in a small town outside of New York City and the families whose lives are intertwined by this event, as well as their secrets from the past.  This book explores familial, emotional relationships spanning generations in the town revealing a complex, well-written mystery/contemporary fiction novel.  Fragile is a multi-faceted novel, expertly telling the tale of two simultaneous stories, separated only by time.

The characters in Fragile are surprisingly full of depth and relatable.  My favorite character, Maggie, is a do-it-all kind of mom – psychiatrist by day, nurturing mom and supportive wife by night.  Her steadfast love for her son and her tireless search for the truth really held this novel together for me.

Here is one of my favorite lines from the book (pg. 219):

“The thing is, I wanted to be a better man than my father, a better father than he was.  I just never knew how.  You can’t build a house without the right tools, you know.”

Now ain’t that the truth! 

I’d rate this book a 4 out of 5.

Book Review: The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

I finished another book!  YAY!

Not-so-secret fact about me: I love, love, love to read.  I try to fit it in once a day – you know, when I’m not working, changing a diaper, cooking dinner, laundry, etc.  You get my drift.

I fell in love with Jennifer Haigh’s writing a few years ago after reading Mrs. Kimble.  That book touched me on so many levels.  (A DEFINITE must-read!)  So when I saw The Condition on a library shelf, I just had to check it out.

The Condition was pretty good – although nowhere near the greatness of Kimble.  Still, worth a read…3/4 of the way it gets REALLY good!

I won’t ever spoil an ending in one of my reviews, but I’ll give you just enough info for you to determine if it’s something you’d like to read.

The Condition is an interwoven tale of the McKotch family – a family so emotionally distant from each other and painfully unable to communicate.  The book begins with the family coming together for their annual retreat to their Cape Cod summer home.  From the onset, it is clear that Frank and Paulette McKotch’s marriage will likely not last through the summer.  Frank, a scientist who spends too much time in the lab, and his pedigreed wife, Paulette, have reached the end of their ropes with one another.   Fast forward twenty years and the McKotches are, indeed, divorced.  Their three children, Billy, Gwen, and Scott have grown equally distant.

The book takes its name from the condition a then, pre-teen Gwen is diagnosed with – Turner’s syndrome.  However, surprisingly, the book is not a story of the family dealing with issues surrounding her condition.  Instead, Haigh explores the drama surrounding this fractured family expertly.

All in all, I’d rate this book a 3.5 out of 5.