She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen
Published by David C. Cook
She Makes It Look Easy introduces the reader to Ariel Baxter, a stay-at-home mom who feels like she’ll never “get it right”, who despite loving her children and her husband, feels lonely and insignificant a lot of the time. When Ariel and her husband move to a new neighborhood, she meets Justine, a “perfect” wife and mother who seems to have all the answers. The two become close friends, but even Ariel doesn’t know the secrets that Justine is keeping from the world. When rumors begin circulating the neighborhood, Ariel has to choose between believing her new friend or the truth that is staring her in the face.
I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction because it tends to be too light and sometimes preachy for my tastes, but I make an exception for Marybeth Whalen for two reasons. One, she is an awesome person and I love to support fantastic, wonderful people at whatever they do, and two, her books weave the Christian part of Christian fiction in very thoughtfully, and it’s not at all overwhelming or preachy. She Makes It Look Easy was everything I’ve come to expect from Whalen and it was a subject that I’m sure hits close to home for a lot of people.
Since I don’t have kids, the world Whalen details in this book is unfamiliar to me, but most people, including myself, can relate to feelings of jealousy or that pesky “the grass is greener on the other side” feeling. Ariel is jealous of Justine, she wants to BE Justine, so she settles for being her friend, but being her friend blinds her to the reality of Justine’s life. When she finally realizes the secrets that her friend has been keeping from her, it’s like a slap in the face to Ariel – a feeling that maybe her life is great just the way it is and she should be happy with who she is instead of trying to be someone else.
Whalen also gives the reader chapters from Justine’s point of view, and while she is a selfish person who makes bad choices, the reader can’t help but feel sorry for her. These chapters really illuminate how important it is to plan for the worst case scenario, to focus on what’s really important in life, and to nurture your marriage and family. When the world comes crumbling down, your family is all that’s left, and if you haven’t taken care of those relationships things can be devastatingly hard. It’s easy to judge people who make awful decisions, but when the reader sees it from Justine’s point of view it becomes clear how sad of a person she is, how desperate she is for something she can’t quite grasp. I liked that Whalen did this, because otherwise it would have been too simple a story – with Justine’s point of view it becomes more complex, more real.
I liked She Makes It Look Easy a lot. For those who are put off by Christian fiction, this would be a good choice, and for those who enjoy the genre, it might be something a little deeper and more gritty than your typical fare.