Life is full of decisions. Once we’ve made them, we think they are final. A contraire, people get divorced, change colleges, bring an extra pair of shoes, and order a scoop of vanilla and chocolate. We always try to weasel our way out of making something definitive because that means we cannot have it all. In the book, Fly Away Home, Jennifer Weiner takes three characters—a mother and two sisters—and centers chapters around each one. A politician’s wife, Sylvie, has just discovered via national television that her husband had an affair with a chubby twenty something year old, an insult because her Yale bred career as a lawyer subsided as she became Richard’s right arm in his political endeavors down to keeping twenty pounds off and undergoing nips and tucks so that she could be the perfect image for the press. (Something talked about even recently with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest scandal). We blame the woman. If she doesn’t look the part and the man is wealthy, we side with the culprit and berate the victim. My the demise of beauty.
Next there was Diana, the eldest, lonely in her picture perfect life. Unlike her father, though, her spouse was the source of lonesomeness. The bar she had raised for her life was too high, and she could no longer jump. Rounding out the story, Lizzie, the drug addict with a second chance, just wanted to start again. Weiner portrayed doctor Diana as the health crazed organic parent that the 21st century has bred seen as Lizzie cares for her nephew.
This book unravels the undertaking of realizing what we actually want. Do we ever know what we want? Weiner lets the reader’s mind race along side the characters. We pound the pavement with Diana as she runs through town. We look repulsed biting into a “gluten-free carob brownie,” We awe in Lizzie’s quest to show the world that she is not a “fuck-up.”
No choice is final. Except for death. Feast on the witty repartee and become entangled in the meandering roads that one piece of news leads three women wandering down.
Below is an amuse-bouche.
“So the sex wasn’t great, she thought as they kissed, bumping noses and teeth as sweat dribbled from his forehead.” –Diana
“Diana would get up at five-thirty for her run and come home forty-five minutes later, drenched in sweat, or rain if it was raining. She’d gulp down a protein shake, start a pot of coffee, take a shower, and dry her hair. By the time Milo and Lizzie and Gary came downstairs at seven, Diana would have the dishwasher emptied, the counters wiped, toast in the toaster, cereal and juice on the table, and her commuter mug filled with black coffee.”
The health food craze of today, “…Diana-approved meal of organic humus, carrots and whole-wheat pita. for dessert, Milo asked for, and received, a gluten-free carob brownie.”
“The girl, Gary’s girl….would keep bowls of Hershey’s Kisses on the coffee table, and she’d decorate the house for all the big holidays and most of the small ones. Probably she’d be class mother, and PTA president, and she’d deliver meals to the elderly once a month. In bed, she’d be exuberant, and would take it as an endorsement when Gary sweated all over her.” -Diana thinking of the woman her husband should have married
“The organic produce guy, a young man who’d left Brooklyn in order to minimize his carbon footprint and consume only things he could make or grow himself. This had come to involve…going toilet-paper free the year before, and making his wife use discarded athletic socks for her monthly cycle.’That poor girl!’ said Sylvie, privately resolving to figure out where the young woman was living and anonymously deliver some tampons, the really bad kind, with non biodegradable plastic applicators.”
“It was too much pressure, having to stand beside him and submit herself to the world’s scrutiny, to the bitches of Boca Raton….” -a politician’s wife