Meg 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.
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