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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough Paperback – January 4, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A recession-battered baby boomer divorcée struggles to keep it together after her mother moves in and her ex knocks up his much younger girlfriend in Pennebaker's sharp hen lit debut (after several YA novels). After the recession wipes out her savings, widowed Ivy moves in with daughter Joanie, who is recently divorced. Joanie's life is riddled with stress: she's saddled with making a living at a job she fears she can't do; worries that she'll never get past her divorce; and is constantly at odds with her cantankerous mother and her teenage daughter, Caroline. Spoiled, awkward Caroline lashes out at her one friend as often as she does her mother, and she's disgusted that her father is planning to marry a woman half his age after getting her pregnant, though Caroline does feel an unlikely kinship with her stepmother-to-be. There's a rare honesty in Pennebaker's work that allows for both empathy and ample schadenfreude as the women examine themselves and each other, and their inner lives have a winning warts-and-all air of authenticity. Pennebaker's effort delivers right through to its hopeful but realistic conclusion. (Jan.)
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Joanie Pilcher, nearing 50 and recently divorced, is firmly entrenched in the sandwich generation. Working at a job she hates in an ad agency, she’s doing her best with her moody 15-year-old daughter, Caroline, and her depressed 77-year-old widowed mother, Ivy, who moved in six months earlier after her stock portfolio tanked. When Joanie’s ex calls to tell her that his much-younger live-in girlfriend is pregnant, it seems a final straw. Meanwhile, Caroline suffers typical teenage angst, hating her life, discovering pot, and mooning over handsome Henry in her Spanish class, and Ivy—keenly missing her old home and friends—tries to fill her days with Goggling on the Internet, with a little shoplifting on the side. Pennebaker brings the realism of her young adult novels to this debut adult novel, creating characters—both major and minor—who elicit sympathy and with whom readers can identify. Title and promotional blurbs aside, this is less lighthearted chick lit than a fairly grim look at life, with a welcome upbeat turn at the end. --Michele Leber
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Pennebaker tackles the lives of three generations of women living unexpectedly under one roof (imagine!) with humor and tenderness. I especially loved the teenager, Caroline, and was impressed with the author's portrayal of this angst-y girl.
While the characters seem to be very distant from one another, each wallowing in her own troubles, they just want to be loved and accepted for who they are - no matter their age. If you're a mom or a daughter, you'll absolutely relate to the relationships between these three women. Give yourself the gift of a few hours of down-time and immerse yourself in this book. You'll be glad you did.
Pennebaker's book does NOT disappoint.
It's funny and aggravating at the same time, as three generations of women live in the same house (not by choice) and muddle the best they can through their individual and collective dramas.
An exercise in perspectives -- generational, mother-daughter, and otherwise -- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough reveals the grace and humor, frustration and (yes) anger, that consumes us ... especially at times of big transitions.
Most recent customer reviews
When 3 generation of women who cannot stand each other have to live under the same roof, you can definitely expect some entertainment.Read more