“wife 22” made me feel veritably chipper

There are some books, and movies, and books that are certain to be movies, that make you just smile.

Here is my prediction: Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon will be as ubiquitous as sunscreen this summer. Forgive my chipper tone, but I’ve just finished it, and it just had that effect on me, what can I say?

I have to admit that to a certain extent I do judge books by their covers, but in the same way that we sort of size up someone’s appearance the first time we see them, trying to guess what they are like, whether or not will we relate to one another, if they are dull or intriguing.

Between the title, which made me think it might be sci fi (a genre I rarely seek), and the almost retro perkiness of the daisy design, my expectations were not very high. Keep in mind that of late I’ve been reading holocaust memoirs and books about death and grief, so... I skipped the editor’s intro (it was an ARC, thank you very much) and the jacket copy, didn’t read the cutesy bookmark that came with it (although I used it, thank you very much redux), but just dove in.

How I smiled and laughed while reading this book (remarkable in itself, for I am not easily amused). I read it in snippets (appropriate given its format) and must have said a hundred times “I’m reading this book…it’s so funny!” It is.

It’s light reading, entertaining, cleverly funny, but brilliantly sneaky in that it really does touch on so many of the stickier parts of life. It’s a book that deals with the angst of a woman at her “tipping point,” the age at which her own mother died, dealing with a flailing marriage, growing older, job loss, the ins and outs of her relationships with spouse, best friend, old enemies, children and their boyfriends, temptation, and the lure and alienation of social media.

It’s a nearly four-hundred-page book that flies by, written in a style which alternates between bursts of google searches, blips of facebook chats, the answers to an online questionnaire (sans the questions) and lots of smart dialogue, all of which captures not only the subtleties of our interactions with our techno world but with all the people within it. The characters and the plot are at once almost caricature-like and deeply knowable, perhaps because we can see ourselves and our own lives in their words, bolstered by the spot-on references which make this world so very familiar.

After finishing it I went back and read the editor’s info and once again smiled. Publishing types will often throw around titles of successful books to describe the work at hand. Often the connection is sorely lacking at best. In this case she likened it to Bridget Jones’s Diary, or at least to the way she felt as she read it, how she was able to relate to the main character (like her, in her 20’s) and how Wife 22 spoke to her with the same relevance now. Exactly. This is a feel-good book not because if its happy ending (which you sort of guess about midway through) but because it’s just such a fun ride getting there.

Oh, and you betcha, there is a movie being made. And I’m sure it will be hilarious. Also, I think the cover is perfect.


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