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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough ~ Ruth Pennebaker

February 7, 2011

 Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Published: January 4, 2011
Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Pages:309
ISBN: 9780981956886
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

It’s a drag getting old, everyone knows that. Ivy didn’t think that her faith in God or devotion to her family would ever let age have her against the ropes. Yet, here she is, watching her fifty year old daughter let a nice marriage die and a her teenaged granddaughter join gangs or cults or whatever it is that young people have found to get into, now a days. She wishes for a simpler time as she continually shakes her head and sighs.

Joanie didn’t exactly let a good marriage die. It’s more like her husband of over a decade, woke up one morning, out of love, in love with a wispy blonde thing that happened to be carrying his baby. She’s over the divorce, over her teenager slamming her door, over her mother bombarding her with criticism and very over her divorcee group. Oh, and she’s over sex. Forever.

Caroline is not over sex, although, she has yet to have it. She’s smart and skinny but why does any of that matter when no one notices you? Getting old may be a drag but high school is downright unbearable.

There is something really unique about the way this story is told. Instead of a header telling which character is speaking or thinking, the inner monologue and rolling commentary simply flips from one to the next. This method seemed to give the impression that all three women comprised one whole person at various states of existence, watching and noting the other quirks of age or youth.

I found the book hilarious, throughout. Of course, I’ve recently been informed that my sense of humor is in full on desert drought stage and needs to be used only with people who have similar inclinations. I tend to find humor in almost everything and I like snarky, wry commentary, especially about really normal stuff.

For some reason, I suppose it’s more a matter of appealing to target audience than a true gender leaning, I’ve had a hard time finding very dark, satirical humor in female voice. I think Pennebaker does a great job in three voices, nailing my type of shown, not told, humor.

This is a book to be read but to be read with care. I loved it, again, but I’ve seen a few reviews that felt it missed the mark. It’s a witty commentary on, not family dynamics but rather people and their insecurities, dreams, failures and rhythms. Read it with that in mind and you’ll enjoy it wholeheartedly.

About Ruth Pennebaker

Ruth Pennebaker writes about women’s issues, families, marriage, aging, politics, and anything else that interests her at her popular The Fabulous Geezersisters blog. She’s also the Urban Cowgirl columnist at the Texas Observer, an occasional commentator at KUT public radio in Austin, and the author of three acclaimed young adult novels. Her work has appeared in nationwide publications, including The New York Times, McCall’s, Redbook and other newspapers and magazines. She lives in Austin with her mad scientist husband, their cat, Lefty, and the accumulation of stuff from their two emerging-adult children.

Check out Ruth’s other stops:

Ruth’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 17th: Debbie’s Book Bag

Tuesday, January 18th: Proud Book Nerd

Thursday, January 20th: Love to Read for Fun

Monday, January 24th: Hospitable Pursuits

Tuesday, January 25th: Scraps of Life

Wednesday, January 26th: Reviews from the Heart

Thursday, January 27th: Tina’s Book Reviews

Friday, January 28th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, January 31st: Teresa’s Reading Corner

Tuesday, February 1st: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, February 2nd: BookNAround

Friday, February 4th: Life in the Thumb

Monday, February 7th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Tuesday, February 8th: The Book Chick

Thursday, February 10th: Romance Books Forum

Monday, February 14th: Bookworm’s Dinner

Tuesday, February 15th: Amused By Books

Wednesday, February 16th: Clever Girl Goes Blog

Date TBD: Chefdruck Musings

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2011 1:40 pm

    This one actually sounds like my cup of tea, and since I like offbeat and sarcastic humor, I bet I would really enjoy it. Glad to hear you had such a good time with it. I will be keeping my eyes open!

    • February 7, 2011 4:52 pm

      I think you might enjoy it. It’s fun and it wasn’t a total crowd pleaser but I think it needs to be read in a few layers. I really did love it and thought it was very intelligent.

  2. February 7, 2011 5:27 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read my novel and write this excellent, thoughtful review. I’m glad somebody else lives in the humor desert.

  3. February 7, 2011 5:44 pm

    I’m curious enough to want to give this one a try!

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