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12 May, 2009

Book Review: The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews.

For Amy, life has become slightly stale. She is a stay at home mom, living a lifestyle slightly beyond the means of her one income home. She is the mother of a ten year old, and feels looked down on for still being a stay at home mom and not having returned to the working world. But she has not always been “Mason’s mom who doesn’t work”. Once she was a lawyer in a highly known law firm. When Mason was born, she set her law degree aside to be with him temporarily. But as the years pass, Amy finds her temporary hiatus becoming more and more permanent. She finds herself chafing at the roles and compromises that she sees as becoming her only identity.

However, Amy is not alone. She has a support group of women who all find themselves in the same roles. Wife, mother, and homemaker in a city which prides itself on its diversity and fast paced living where women hold as much power in the working world as their male co-workers. During a routine safety walk for Mason’s school, Amy discovers a new friend in a woman she only vaguely knows through the parent network of Mason’s classmates. As the women witness a horrible event, they form a fledgling bond of friendship. Amy finds her life becoming filled with excitement as she steps out of her confining roles into new ones.

However Amy’s new friendship changes some of her old ones. Until a tragic event swamps her new friendship, Amy doesn’t realize how special her old group of friends really is. Can this group survive the events that it suddenly faces or will these women quickly drift apart?

The Ten Year Nap explores the ideas of motherhood. Through Amy’s story and the stories of her circle of friends we are shown how girls are taught to strive for excellence and to be all they can be, only to be bogged down with the roles of motherhood. The story is punctuated by flashbacks to their mothers and the events which shaped each of these womens young lives.

Meg Wolitzer presents a strong story filled with strong and not so strong characters. We discover two generations of mothers and their hopes and dreams for their own children. I loved how the story was split into smaller sub stories; stories that make you think they are leading away from each other then at the last moment they turn and re-join in an unexpected way. This is not a book I might have picked up if I had seen it at the library. However, I enjoyed it very much and plan on seeking out earlier books by this author.

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