Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

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Wow, I really loved this book. Melanie Gideon does an excellent job of capturing the real struggles of, not just a marriage with children involved, but marriage in and of itself. Alice Buckle, our main character, was totally relatable, at least to me, other than the fact that she is a creative person as sadly, I am not one of those.

Wife 22 explores the mid-life/mid-marriage crisis of Alice Buckle who finds herself with a husband who lost his job because he flipped out about his sex life in front of clients at his advertising firm, a son who might be gay, a daughter who might have an eating disorder, a family that seems to be growing further apart, and on top of all of this she is confronted with her “tipping-point” – this is the year that she becomes the same age her mother was when she passed away. It’s a lot. An awful lot. Just like life. But it’s not too much nor is it too overdone. Excellent balance I would say (read in a British accent).

One day, Alice receives an e-mail from the Netherfield Center for the Study of Marriage and ends up completing their preliminary questionnaire, thereby submitting herself, and her union to the Center’s research on marriages.Thus begins Alice’s examination in to the various aspects of her marriage; from the beginning, to the birth of her children, to the plateau her and William seem to have reached.

There are two things that I really LOVED about this book:

  1. The way Gideon uses various formats in her writing. You go from reading a regular narrative to reading e-mails to reading Facebook posts by the various friends of the Buckles’.
  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that Gideon hides the questions that Alice is responding to for the Netherfield Center. It bothered me at first, because I had no way of knowing what she was answering or if her answer even made sense, but I realized that if you tend to skim when reading (like I do, especially if I get bored) you would probably end up reading the question, and then glossing over Alice’s answer if it wasn’t something you though you were interested in. But her answers to these questions really expose Alice’s sarcasm, her sadness, and the things that are really important to her. It goes a LONG way towards the development of Alice’s character. (DON’T FRET: she has an appendix at the end of the book that allows you to see what question is asked – which had I realized this prior to reading the book I probably would have gone back and forth. Although now that I actually type that, I realize that I’m too lazy to do something as crazy as all that)

The reason why I only gave this book 4 flames is because it’s crazy to me how Alice is having all of these worries and feelings about her marriage, but she doesn’t do anything to directly address these with her husband . She doesn’t really try to talk to him. She just seems to want to keep skating around the issue and pretending that she’s on terra firma (oh my gosh guys, I totally know Latin).I feel like one of the main reasons that Alice is upset is because the communication between her and her husband isn’t as strong as it used to be, but then she never seems to try to resolve that on her own. I will say that I was very pleased with the fact that Gideon did not let Alice’s first thought jump to the idea that William was cheating on her (many kudos for that small favor).

This is one of those books that makes me want to seek our everything Melanie Gideon has written with the hope that they are all just as engaging as this story was. Thanks for the Goodread Gideon!

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