Book Review: A Window Opens

Dear fellow readers—

I think summer carried me away, distracting me with sun and fun and lots of writing and reading—but apparently not much book blogging! But I’ve returned, and I’ve got some wonderful recommendations which I’ll be (finally) sharing with you over the coming weeks and months.  The first: A Window Opens, by Elisabeth Egan.

Synopsis from publisher’s website:

In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

A Window Opens touches on dilemmas that many women are facing—whether or not to work outside the home, juggling house and work, caring for parents while still caring for young children—presented through the likable and complicated protagonist of Alice Pearse.  Her issues and her struggles are as authentic and relatable as the character herself—yes she’s smart and successful, but she’s also complex, imperfect, and has her quirks, just like you and me.

I also enjoyed reading about Scroll, the trendy Apple/Amazon-like company she finds herself working for.  Among her co-workers (who add great tension to the story) are the down-to-earth and scruffy office mate, the holier-than-thou and shallow CEO who is so consumed with the “big picture” and his own great ideas that he misses the practical problems and valuable employees right in front of him, and the boss who is conflicted between acting as a friend or acting as a superior– all of whom I believe we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives.

This novel has much to offer, and is a satisfying and moving read— I found myself gritting my teeth in frustration, moved to tears, and smiling at some of Alice’s experiences as I thought, “yup, I’ve been there!”  In a touching yet realistic end, the story tied together very well.

I highly recommend this book, and believe it would give book clubs some great discussion topics.

Happy reading!

Mariana

(Netgalley provided me with an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.)

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