Monday, May 7, 2012

I Couldn't Love You More - Jillian Medoff

I was surprised to find Medoff's latest novel on the table of the Barnes & Nobles at Union Station yesterday--I thought it wouldn't be out till the 15th. I remember really enjoying the way Medoff captured family dynamics in her last novel.  I remember how the pink cover seemed to trivialize what was a very serious story.  Similarly, the cover of I Couldn't Love You More, makes it seem like light summer reading but it isn't a breezy story.  A day after finishing the novel, the characters are still with me. I can picture Eliott with her new hair color and  persevering seven year old Gail with a slight limp in her gait and Hailey the four year old de fuhrer.  I can picture the clear V of Grant's back and I can picture the face of fourteen year old Charlotte, clear and unsullied with make-up, ready to trust. I have my own idea of what their future holds since the book ends without everything resolved.

Medoff is incredibly gifted, as she was able to create such a believable story. There were moments when I was absolutely furious with her characters. There were moments where it was painful to continue reading as I was so angry with the events in the story.  I had to actually remind myself--this is fiction, it isn't a true story.  I found myself so drawn into the unfolding narrative.

According to the discussion guide, the central conflict revolves around having to make an unfathomable choice between two children. The books raises questions about how one can be a successful step mother while also being a mother to a biological child.  It also centrally seems to ask: What does it mean to be a good mother?  In the world we live in today this is such a loaded concept. Do good mothers stay home with their children? Co-sleep? Breastfeed? Balance work and family? Is it ever acceptable for a divorced biological mother to let her children live with their father? Can a good mother blog about their child's daily life?  In her essay that follows the novel, Medoff explains that part of the story was developed when she started to consider how children react to a parent writing about them.  Medoff explains that she had quit the writing life, but was compelled to write a scene in which the adult daughter of a memoirist describes how it felt to be the subject of her mother's books. It is compelling to consider how being the subject of her mother's memoirs affected Eliot's development.

Medoff writes provocatively about motherhood, family relationships and modern life.  I genuinely enjoyed this novel. It is well-crafted and incredibly thought-provoking. I can't wait to hear others thoughts on I Couldn't Love You More.

1 comment:

  1. I am not familiar with Jillian Medoff...thanks for bringing her to my attention! I always love finding a new author to read.