Autopsy of a Boring Wife

by Marie-Renee Lavoie
translated by Arielle Aaronson
First sentence: “I’ve always thought it terribly pretentious to gather all your loved ones in one place in order to say: the two of us, right new right now and in spite of the overwhelming statistics, declare that we, temporarily bonded by the illusion of eternity, we are FOREVER.”
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Content: There’s talk of sex and some swearing, including f-bombs. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

The publisher is calling this a “Quebecois Bridget Jones Diary” so I went in expecting a quirky heroine who’s a bit of a hot mess and trying to get her life in order. I expected it to be funny. It’s neither of those things.

On the eve of their 25th anniversary (which seems like not a long enough time, considering they have three kids and two are out of college and only one is starting college… I suppose their oldest could be 23, but he seemed older than that.), Diane’s husband tells her he’s leaving her. She’s boring, he says, and he’s found Better Love with his 30-year-old secretary. At age 48 (again, seems young, but that’s just me), Diane has NO idea what to do with her life, which had (even though she has a full-time job) revolved around her husband and children.

What follows is a pretty interesting (though not funny) exploration of the five stages of grief from a woman who is mourning the loss of her marriage. It wasn’t until the end that I realized it: Diane went through each stage as she tried to right her life back and tried to figure out where to go from here. It was thoughtful, yes, and bittersweet, but nothing like what I was expecting.

Which doesn’t make it bad. It just isn’t what the publisher promised.

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We Are Okay

weareokayby Nina LaCour
First sentence: “Before Hannah left, she asked if I was sure I’d be okay.”
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Release date: February 14, 2017
Review copy sent by the publisher’s rep, who is my favorite.
Content: There’s one f-bomb, some inferences to sex and a scene where the main character gets drunk. It’ll be in the Teen Section (grades 9+) section of the bookstore.

I know from the outset that I’m not going to do this book justice. Partially because the plot is simple: it’s Christmas break, and college freshman Marin doesn’t want to go home for lots of reasons. The chief one being that right before she left for college, her grandfather — her only living family — died. So her best friend (the one who has been texting and calling and Marin’s not answering) comes to see her. And over the next few days before Christmas, and through a series of flashbacks, we find out the depths of Marin’s grief.

Which is really what this book is “about”: the varied ways we all deal with loss, heartbreak, lonliness, and grief. Some ways are healthier than others. Some have friends who are willing to put in the work to rescue them. And sometimes, distance and time can be both the best and the worst thing.

And LaCour gets all those difficult emotions beautifully. The story unfolds bit by bit, giving us small slices at a time, until we see the whole, heartbreaking picture. It’s a remarkable moment, one which brought tears to my eye. And it’s a universal feeling: we have all wanted to be loved, we have all had heartbreak, we have all had grief and been lonely. It’s beautiful and moving and heartbreaking all at once.

Perfect.