Review: Ten Year Nap by Meg Woltzer

wolitzerbook_200Meg Wolitzer’s Ten Year Nap attempts to get at the universality of being a stay-at-home mom, with the title referring to the ten years that one of the main characters, Amy Lamb, a New York lawyer before she became a mom, has been at home with her son.   

Caution to those who are so far intrigued… this is no light-hearted chick lit.  It is a dense, slow read, with all the appropriate angst and immoderation of stereotypical New Yorkers.   That is the frustrating part of the novel.   But, (and this is a BIG BUT), if you can handle the complex writing and the whiney New York women, then you are in for some amazing and deeply felt insight into the human mommy heart (full disclosure:  I am a stay at home mom, with a former career, so the novel spoke personally to me on that level ).   

In reading this book, I have to imagine that Wolitzer’s words will somehow speak to almost every mom out there.  There are amazingly poignant passages:  a mom’s attachment to a newborn baby and how she couldn’t put her infant in day care, another mom’s flashback to her helpless preemie twins and her protectiveness even as they are older and healthy, the identity crisis of not knowing how to answer what it is that “you do.”   There are happy and unhappy marriages, and moms who are content to stay at home and those who are antsy and unsatisfied.   One of the friends has moved to the suburbs, some have a tough time making ends meet in the city, and one is very wealthy.  One of the four moms, who had some fertility problems and adopted a baby from Russia, struggles with her choices and seems to ignore her daughter’s signs of special needs.   Interwoven into the larger story are smaller chapters, flashbacks into the lives of other moms in past and present generations.   

Perhaps my only real negative with this book is that despite the fact that I, as the reader, was inside these characters’ heads, I still didn’t connect with them.  I knew their names, their former occupations, how they felt about their kids and spouses, how they grew up, etc.  But, somehow, (and I am not sure why) I walked away not feeling intimate with these women.   Maybe it was because I didn’t like most of these moms, and some I actually hated.  Maybe the darkish tone of the novel only gave me insight into their angst, and not their joys. 

But, what the novel does well is gives you a heaping spoonful of mommy-hood.  My guess is that many will find it slow and whiney.  For someone like me, who often misses my career life, I found such truth in some of the passage that I have to be glad I spent the extra time and energy to read this novel.   

This book was reviewed by my book club buddy, Elaine.  Thanks, Elaine! 

Reviewer Bio:  Elaine Legere is a stay-at-home mommy and part-time marketing consultant, after years of working for Disney, Palm (aka Palm Pilot), Los Angeles Times, and Details Magazine.  She received her BA at UCLA in English Literature and an MBA from University of Colorado. She is an avid reader, loves movies, and all things outdoors.

10 Responses

  1. This sounds like it would make a great book club read – lots to discuss in it.

  2. I am intrigued…thanks for your insightful review. As a working mom of a teenage son who struggled with having to go back to work after he was born, I think I will relate to a lot of the story. I’m adding it to my TBR pile!

  3. I’m glad to read this. I bought it some time ago but have heard reviews both ways since so it’s kind of found it’s way down the TBR pile. I had heard, several times, that the readers didn’t like the characters but I’m glad to hear that Elaine still thinks it’s worth reading.

  4. I don’t have to like a character to connect with them, but I have to be able to appreciate their complexity and sometimes I find with these types of novels that they just aren’t all that complex.

  5. I agree with Elaine’s assessment of this book wholeheartedly…. except that I’m not sure that I’d ever recommend this to a friend to read. I just couldn’t connect and the pace was so torturously slow…

    As Elaine said, it had some really great insights and parts to it. I’m afraid that the book just fell on deaf ears with me


  6. Ah, man! I was looking for a literate 10 year nap myself. LOL!

  7. Great, honest review. I’m a former career woman who is now a SAHM too, so this one has been on my list.

  8. I have read differing opinions on this book, and I find it interesting that you say that the characters were a bit hard to connect to. That is something that would definitely take me out of the story, so I am not sure if I would like this book. I might check it out at the library and give it a few pages though, because I am also a stay at home mom, and I am wondering if it will speak to me.

  9. Great review! I agree wholeheartedly. It’s a dense, slow read, and the characters leave you a little cold at the end, but there are some great insights and observations throughout. i reviewed it here:

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