Tuesday, December 23, 2008

both sides of the story

The Other Mother by Gwendolen Gross
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: This is the story of two women, two mothers. Thea lives in the house where she grew up and is the stay-at-home mom of 3 kids, including a toddler. Amanda, a children's book editor, moves in next door, pregnant, about to start her maternity leave. When circumstances force the two women uncomfortably close, each must face her own choices to stay home or continue to work.

The best thing about this book is that Gross alternates chapters between Thea and Amanda, allowing the reader to get both sides of the story. To each mother, the other is a monster, but both have moments of being able to put themselves in the other's shoes.

The worst thing about this book is that Gross chooses to use the events of September, 2001 to bring her story to a close. The story starts in September, 2000 when Amanda moves in to her new house. The book is divided into sections by the months that follow, with no mention of year, until the following September when the inclusion of 2001 is glaring and obvious. Without going into detail, Gross gets her characters home safely and ends her story quite abruptly.

Gross's decision to use September 11th in this way is a shame because up until the last section this was a very engaging book. I cared about the characters and wanted them to be friends or at least come to terms separately with their own decisions. But it feels as though Gross could not figure out how to make that happen and decided to take the easy way out.

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