Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

I am sure there are countless written reviews of “The Ten Year Nap” on the web. After all it was a New York Times Bestseller. But I was a reluctant reader. It was simply one of the best options at the “I Love LA” store in the Delta terminal at LAX. The book seemed interesting enough. But the book didn’t grip me the way most books do. I wasn’t compelled to find out the end of the story. I read it in snippets, stopping at chapter breaks – something I rarely do.

To be honest I wasn’t floored by the writing. There weren’t sentences that captured my eye and made me linger the way they did when I recently read The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard. And I didn’t feel empathy for most of the main characters. I found Amy petulant, aggravating. I understood her desire for more, her lack of love for her chosen career path, her new view on life. I could relate to her. But I didn’t care much for her. With Jill and Roberta and Karen I felt much the same way. But more than halfway through the story I was won over. I feel the story raises so many salient questions. About what makes for a fulfilling life, about gender roles and the way society socialized boys and girls.  Reading the book made me ponder all over again: “How can I best live my life?” It also made me realize how much the women of my generation take all our freedoms and abilities for granted. The four friends who have taken a “ten year nap,” are the children of a generation who paved the way for female greatness. Amy’s mother became a successful novelist and a notable feminist organizer. Jill’s mother’s absence emboldened her to work harder for success but also left her forever altered. Karen’s mother worked hard at a physically demanding job, and begrudged the way her daughter spent time dreaming of math. After finishing the book, I immediately wanted my mother and best friend to read the book. I think it is a perfect selection for a book club as it raises so many discussion-worthy questions.

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