A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Published by Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher
Alice Pearce is a wife, mother of three, and part-time editor, and is mostly happy with what her life has become. But when her husband decides to abandon his career in favor of embarking on his own path, she decides to find full-time work in order to support their family financially. Her new job at Scroll, a technology-focused start-up that claims to be the future of reading is exciting, and Alice’s new ability to “have it all” by balancing her new career and her family so effectively is something she is rather proud of. Until things begin to fall apart in all areas, forcing her to take a look at her choices and figure out what “having it all” really means for herself.
I am of two minds about A Window Opens. On the one hand, I really liked Alice and the story was very entertaining for me. I enjoyed watching her navigate her way into an entirely new world for herself and find success despite setback after setback. I also loved the satire-ish way Egan explained Scroll’s corporate culture (which, being very well-versed in the corporate world myself, I know is more truth than fiction). But in the end I am just not sure I appreciate Egan’s messaging. It felt to me that Alice was forced to make a choice between career and family, when in reality it’s just not like that for most women. For most women it’s a combination of choice and necessity, and most women end up doing both home stuff and career stuff and not “having it all” but “making it work”. And WHY couldn’t she have had a conversation about gender in this book anywhere? Why did the whole thing have to be about Alice’s sacrifices and nothing about her husband’s? Anyway. While I liked the book a lot, ultimately the ending kind of annoyed me. So not a favorite, but still a well-written and entertaining novel.
Day Four by Sarah Lotz
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
It’s four days into a five day cruise when the ship completely shuts down. There’s no electricity, no cell service, but the passengers and crew don’t panic right away – they know someone will come for them soon. Very quickly, though, things escalate from nerve-wracking to downright terrifying as food begins running out, toilets start to back up, and a woman is found dead on the ship. Everyone starts to panic as they face the fact of a potential murderer among them, in addition to even darker possibilities.
This book is definitely creepy, especially for those of you who, like myself, love a good cruise. Day Four kept me furiously turning pages, desperate to find out what fate was in store for all of these people. It’s probably best to go into this book with very little in the way of expectation, because it definitely didn’t go the way I was expecting. That being said, there’s a TON of ambiguity here and I was deeply unsatisfied with the ending. So take that any way you want, but know that it is for sure a terrifying ride.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Maddy is a teenager living in isolation from the outside world, because she has an incredibly rare disease that makes her allergic to almost everything in it. She is content to spend time with her mom and her nurse, Carla, and her books and internet and all the wonderful things that can be experienced from inside a home, until Olly moves in next door. Olly, who she begins to fall in love with, forces her to think outside her bubble and makes her crave the outside world in a way she never thought possible.
Okay. So I really REALLY loved this book for most of it. I loved Maddy, loved her slow-building relationship with Olly, loved how the book was all about living life to the fullest and seizing the moment, and embracing love, and just learning to be a grownup and all that comes with that transition. But something happened that I saw coming from a mile away, and because I usually don’t see these things, it annoyed me to no end that it was completely obvious to me. And that something changed the way I saw the book, in a big way. I know many people felt differently about this book than I did. And in fact, I still would say this is quite a wonderful novel. But it’s not love for me, when all is said and done. It is a beautifully told story with believable characters and a plot that didn’t end up working for me. Does that make sense?