Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Title: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough
Author: Ruth Pennebaker
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
Paperback, 304 pages
Date Published: January 4, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Joanie's ex-husband is having a baby with his new girlfriend. Joanie won't be having more babies, since she's decided never to have sex again.

But she still has her teenaged daughter Caroline to care for. And thanks to the recession, her elderly mother Ivy as well. Her daughter can't seem to exist without texting, and her mother brags about "goggling,"-while Joanie, back in the workforce, is still trying to figure out her office computer. And how to fend off the advances of her coworker Bruce.

Joanie, Caroline, and Ivy are stuck under the same roof, and it isn't easy. But sometimes they surprise each other-and themselves. And through their differences they learn that it is possible to undo the mistakes of the past.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is a story about family. Fractured, unhappy – heck, more like miserable – falling apart at the seams, but still a family, family. The point of view alternates from 15 year old Caroline to her approaching the big 5-0 mom, Joanie, to Grandma Ivy. These three women are vastly different and view the world in entirely different ways. They argue, they scream at each other, they even hate each other at times, but push comes to shove, they’re there for one another despite it all.

Like most stories centering on family dynamics, this one offers up tons of dysfunctional goodies. I loved Caroline’s rebellious nature and her constant mood swings are very much the epitome of a teenage girl. Half the time, she doesn’t even know what she wants or how she feels. I can relate to Caroline and even though I’ve never been in Joanie or Ivy’s situations, I got them too. If you have ever lived with a mom or a mother-figure, you’ll understand this story.

Ruth Pennebaker’s writing is witty and refreshing. There are laugh out loud moments and times when my jaw dropped because of the situations these three women were in. Ivy’s crazy old lady antics are hilarious. Her unintentionally racist nature never comes off as rude, but as funny because Joanie and Caroline are there trying to reel her in and bring her up to the times. I found myself clinging to these women like they were my own family.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough is a fitting title for such a wonderfully crafted contemporary story. Easy to relate to, fun to read, and engaging throughout; Caroline, Joanie, and Ivy wheedled their way into my heart and forced me to pay attention to their slowly crumbling world and watch as they developed into much stronger women. Like I said, this story is about family and these three make quite the household of growth. From breakdown to breakthrough, this story has it all.

*Just a note: This is considered an adult book and there is swearing, as well as sex, but nothing too explicit. An older YA audience will easily enjoy it.

Opening line: “I don’t want you to get upset when I tell you this,” Richard said. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines:
If the meek inherited the earth, the clumsy and unpopular would probably get the moon or an asteroid. Great. ~ pg. 131
And this one:
They were both remembering, she somehow knew, what it was like when you had your first great and jarring disappointment in life, how it felt when you learned the world was unfair and it cracked your heart open and you were sure you would never recover or be happy again. ~ pg. 266
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Ruth Pennebaker online:

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Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I received this book this week - I'm looking forward to reading this one!

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiner's Book Blog) said...

I haven't heard of this one, thanks for reviewing!
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Willa said...

Ooh this one sounds really fun, thanks for sharing.

BrittLit said...

I hadn't heard much about this one, I just loved the title. Thanks for the review though, I might have to pick this one up now. It sort of sound like The Weird Sisters, except inter-generational.

Bere said...

Fantastic review, Nikki! First I have to say that I love the title of this book. So cool! I've been meaning to read more adult books so I will definitely be adding this one to my reading list. Thanks a bunch! =]

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