Mermaid in Brooklyn - Amy Shearn
Formerly an up-and-coming magazine editor, Jenny Lipkin is now your average, stretched-too-thin Brooklyn mom, tackling the challenges of raising two children in a cramped Park Slope walk-up. All she really wants is to survive the sweltering New York summer with a shred of sanity intact. But when her husband, Harry, vanishes one evening, Jenny reaches her breaking point. And in a moment of despair, a split-second decision changes her life forever.
Pulled from the brink by an unexpected ally, Jenny is forced to rethink her ideas about success, motherhood, romance, and relationships. But confronting her inner demons is no easy task. . .
I knew immediately that not only was I going to love this book a lot but that I was going to love Amy Shearn. First of all, she is hilarious. And I'd like to think she's been through post-partum depression and everything else that parenthood brings because it was so real. Jenny's story sounds so much like mine, minus the mermaid and cute dad situation, and I felt like I was reading my memoir.
Which legitimately felt a little cheated because now I feel like I have a different route to go on my own memoir someday. But, that's a story for another day. Literally.
Literally on the first page there was a line that I found myself saying, "dammit, I hear you on THAT", and here it is so you get a sampling of her voice:
"I would by lying if I said his leaving wasn't a tiny bit of a relief, at least at first. My initial thought-due mostly to sleep deprivation, the effects of which, as any mother or political prisoner knows, never entirely fades- was that once the girls were in bed, I could ignore the dishes to be done and laundry (still in a compact three-day-old brick from the Laundromat drop off service) to be put away."
Um, hello. I remember when Matt and I went through a rough patch and I made him leave, I was secretly grateful that all of a sudden, the pressure to be a good wife AND mother were temporarily gone. To make matters worse, Jenny's infant, Rose, is the epitome of what you don't want in a second child when you are already exhausted, questioning life, and basically over it all. She cries a lot, she is very high needs, and she never sleeps. It summed up what Olivia was for me. And when Jenny repeats, " shut up, shut up, shut up, please shut up" hoping for just a little respite, and maybe a nap, I totally got it. Totally freaking got it. It's everything you never want to admit to a mother and I laughed out loud when Jenny's character referenced "the sheet they make you sign saying you won't shake your baby no matter what" because honestly, been there. I get it.
So I felt like Jenny was me. I connected with her throughout the book. Even with cute dad, a neighborhood dad that is basically a stay at home dad and leads Jenny astray even though her husband has seemingly up and left. And side note? When he sends her a god damn post card basically saying he needs time, but oh don't worry- he'll come back? Stab. I would have been homicidal. Like, oh- please. Take all of the time you need while I'm sleep deprived and trying to feed the dog cereal because I can't force myself down the stairs and down the street to the store one more time with two high demand children in tow.
What else I loved? How her relationship with Laura starts out kind of indifferent, just like any relationship would be when you make a new mommy friend, and eventually grows into a lasting friendship. The irony here is how I finished this book and one of the books I'm reviewing tomorrow made me think of this book again. I'll talk more about that tomorrow. But it's hard to make friends when you become a mother, especially if these are other mommy friends, because you feel judged. It's really difficult to get past that and really not care what others moms are thinking because you know you are doing the best that you know how to do, but at the same time, want to know what you can do to be better.
I don't want to talk about the mermaid aspect, or if Harry comes back, or what transpires with cute dad, or none of that. Because it would ruin it for you and this is too good of a book to do that. But I will tell you this, I have mixed emotions about the ending. You knew it was going to happen (well, I suspected) and when it does.. I feel bad for Jenny. It made me wonder if it's really what she wanted or if she really just felt trapped. But at the same time, I totally understood it because I had a similar ending and look at Matt and I now. So who knows. (Is that enough of a spoiler?)
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