Review: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Title:  Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Author:  Ayelet Waldman

Published:  January 24, 2006

Page Count:  352

Genres:  Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

My Rating:  4.5/5

When Emilia loses her newborn daughter, the sight of any child brings her to tears.  Wednesday afternoons with her stepson, William – an obsessive, know-it-all preschooler and his mother’s mouthpiece – are pushing her over the edge.  When his unceasing questions turn to the baby’s death, Emilia is at a total loss.  Doesn’t anyone understand that self-pity is a full-time job?  Ironically, it is only through her blundering attempts to bond with William that she finally learns what family really means.

This book seriously grabbed me and did not let me go.  With Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Waldman took me on an emotional rollercoaster and I could have read about this family for days and days and never get tired of their story – truly.  First of all, Waldman wrote Emilia so amazingly well, I cannot even explain it properly.  I could literally feel her pain as I was reading about her.  Even when she made some horrible choices I couldn’t help but feel for her and I continuously forgave her all of her errors.  I couldn’t help it, she was just that real to me, so honest, flawed, but deep down just filled with pain.

One of my best friends married a man with a four-year-old son, making her an instant stepmom, and it’s not been the easiest transition for their family.  Not nearly as rough as the book, really, but I absolutely thought of her as I was reading this novel.  The transition this family was going through was so similar to what my friend is dealing with that I couldn’t help putting her in some of Emilia’s situations (which probably made me identify with Emilia even more).  Because of this, I loved reading about Emilia and William’s relationship.  Not even close to a smooth transition, or even an okay relationship – it really was pure chaos.  But it was so real, so honest, so much like how life is, that I loved reading about them sloooowly forming a bond.  

The ending to this novel is one of the best endings I have read in awhile.  I was bawling my eyes out, in a good way, and it was just so beautiful.  So heartbreakingly hopeful, all at once.  I really did love this book.  Highly recommended.