Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer


Title: The Ten Year Nap
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2009
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Age Group: Adult

Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap, is a thoughtful look at the lives of stay at home mothers. Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen all gave up careers to stay home with their children. Although they anticipated going back to work at some point, over time motherhood and marriage have defined their lives. Each have their own reasons for stay home after their children begin attending school and as the years slip by them, the idea of going back to work becomes more uncomfortable.

The Ten Year Nap is very different from the types of novels that I generally read. Most of my reading is full of action, with a definite conflict that needs to be resolved, and characters that can be identified as heroes or villains. I greatly enjoyed taking a break from these fast-paced novels to read a more thoughtful examination of daily life. As a woman with a professional degree who is now staying home with my daughter, I was able to easily identify with the main characters. In today's society so much of who we are is defined by what we do and people are often unsure of how to respond to someone who gives up a career to be a full-time parent.

Wolitzer carefully examines her characters' insecurities and strengths, the state of their marriages and friendships, and their relationships with their children. She brings out their inner thoughts which many of us are so reluctant to share. She answers the question of what these women do all day when their children are at school. Short glimpses between chapters also relate the influence of the past on the present.

The language used in this novel flows easily, almost musical in nature. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters through the small details. Initially there is a sense that some of the characters are stagnant, stuck in their routine. They desire more but are unsure of how or what needs to be added to their lives to create a sense of fulfillment. Small changes are often all that is needed to propel the women forward.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think it would make a great book club selection as it could spark a great discussion.

Thank you to Caitlin at FSB Associates for sending me The Ten Year Nap.