Review: THE TEN YEAR NAP by Meg Wolitzer

Thanks to Caitlin at FSB Associates for sending me this book!

Amy Buckner, a stay-at-home mother in New York, finds herself at loose ends when she realizes that her 10 year old son doesn’t need her so much anymore and her best friend moves away. She continues to go through the motions, meeting friends for breakfast most mornings at a local café but Amy knows something is missing and she doesn’t know how to find it or how to start looking. Into this growing void falls Penny Ramsey, who she gets to know while both are assigned to ‘safety walk’ around their childrens’ school. Amy discovers that Penny’s life is much more interesting than her own; she’s a museum director and her husband is a wealthy businessman. They have no financial problems and on the surface everything seems great. Amy begins a friendship with Penny that seems to fill the empty holes in her own life.

This novel explores the issues surrounding women at different stages in their lives. Questions arise about decisions to stay at home while one’s children are young and then not so young, friendship, marriage and family and careers. It delves into loyalty and betrayal, shallowness and profundity. The choices aren’t easy to make and mostly not perfect, but are often the best possible solution for the given stage of life.

I found this book to be thought provoking and relevant, as most of us at some time in our lives must decide about one or another of the issues that the various characters deal with. Should we stay at home while the children are young or entrust them to a daycare or babysitter? Can we afford to stay at home? And if we do go for that option, once the children are in school, then what?

The author addresses some of these issues not only in the book but also in an article entitled “Mothers of Contention and the Money Wars”. In this article Meg Wolitzer says:

“Women who work full-time or part-time and those who stay home with their kids (as well as those who now spend their days answering help wanted ads on craigslist) may not experience Helen Reddy solidarity. It may be way too soon to speak about the mommy wars in the past tense, for no one has solved the problem of ambivalence about staying home versus working, or the lack of good, cheap daycare; and no one has found a way for some women not to feel they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. Maybe not even the full-scale meltdown of the economy can keep these particular, familiar wars from raging. But it can try.”

And on the topic of friendships this novel raises many more interesting questions, for example, what does it mean to have a best friend? What are the ground rules? What lines can you and should you not cross?

The Ten Year Nap emphasizes that there is no right or wrong answers, and whatever lifestyle is right for you and your family is probably the best choice to make, but each person can only be responsible for her own choices. This point of view is a refreshing departure from being sold the ‘right way to do things’ at every turn.


bermudaonion on March 23, 2009 at 12:42 PM said...

It seems that whatever a woman chooses - working outside the home or staying home - she faces criticism. I think we have a long way to go yet.

An Anonymous Child on March 23, 2009 at 3:17 PM said...

This is interesting. It seems like the sort of book that might appeal more to women than to men - did you get that impression at all? Regardless, it might spark some interesting discussions...

Myckyee on March 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM said...

Bermuda, yes, I believe you're right about the criticism, which is unfortunate considering it's a hard choice to make either way.

Hi Anonymous, I's say it definitely would appeal to women more than men and just yesterday I had a lively discussion about this topic with 3 blogger friends when we met for tea. This is a hot topic for sure.

Thanks for your comments!

Literary Feline on March 26, 2009 at 12:40 AM said...

Thank you for your great review. I hope to read this one someday soon. It is sad that there is so much criticism on both sides of the issue. It really is a personal choice and a family has to do what is best for them.

Myckyee on March 27, 2009 at 5:38 PM said...

Literary Feline - I agree with you, it's very much a personal choice and it's too bad that women so often feel guilty for choosing the option they feel is best for them.


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