Monday, November 28, 2011

The Mother Daughter Show

The Mother Daughter Show, by Natalie Wexler.

Besides, the show was for Grace, a gift for her, a gesture of love. Because she really did love Grace, she positively ached with love for her, and lately - the last several years, really - it had been hard to figure out how to show it. Barb had been so consumed with trying to get Grace to do what she wanted her to do - or at least, not to do things that were self-destructive - that there was no room left for a simple hug, a murmured "I love you." Things were at the point where Grace would only be suspicious of such gestures, wondering what new parenting technique her mother was trying out now. But the show - the show would have no strings attached, no hidden agenda. Maybe it could even put their relationship on a whole different footing before Grace left home. Before it was too late. It was a long shot, but you never knew. Of course, it could only happen if they actually manage to get a show together.

This story is told from the points of view of three moms: Barb, Amanda, and Susan. Their daughters are all seniors at the Barton Friends School in D.C., loosely based on the real life Sidwell Friends School, and the tradition each year is to do a "mother daughter show" where the mothers perform skits and songs for the daughters. Each of the aforementioned mothers are having trouble relating and/or communicating with their daughters, and they figure that the show will be a way to show them how much they care about them.

However, each of the moms have different ideas for the show, and when you combine those with the fifty-four other senior moms, there is definitely a difference of opinion. Amanda has been the perfect "stay at home" mom, but due to money problems she is considering going back to work. Her daughter, Kate, is more interested than her iPod and her friends than talking to her mom, and Amanda wants to find a way to remedy that. On the other hand, Susan, one of Amanda's best friends, is super close with her daughter, Allie, but she has a feeling that there's something big that Allie has been keeping from her. Barb's daughter Grace has fallen in love with a 27-year-old Australian man, and she wants to move to Australia with him instead of going to college. All three of the mothers must put together a great show, and hopefully patch things up with their daughters as well.

The book was entertaining, and I would somewhat classify it as "chick lit." Perhaps this is the Grammar Nazi in me, but I think the title should have been hyphenated (The Mother-Daughter Show); I could be wrong on this, though. There were a lot of things in the novel that I liked and some things that I did not. First: the characters are all developed nicely. We can see why these mothers are having trouble with their daughters, and it's not really either side's fault - it's a combination of both. Susan has a corporate job and Amanda wants to get back into the workforce, and this is explored as well. Barb has way too many things on her plate, but is trying to do right by everyone, and it doesn't always work out.

The author's daughter is a graduate of the Sidwell Friends School in D.C., where the Obama children currently attend. In the novel, President MIYAMA'S daughter MARINA attends Barton Friends School, and he is the first Asian-American that has been elected to office. Marina is a minor character but parts of the book focus on how most school events are sold out, since people hope to catch a glimpse of the president or first lady. I feel like Wexler could have been a little more original with this - President Miyama (Obama), the first Asian-American (African-American) president, with a daughter named Marina (Malia)? The names, at least, could have been more original.

Overall, though, The Mother Daughter Show is a fun book, and if you like chick lit you will probably enjoy it. The novel will be in bookstores on December 1, 2011.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review. The opinions listed, however, are my own.


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