About this book: (from the publisher) Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.
About the author: (from the publicist) Randy Susan Meyers is the author of The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer’s Daughters and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Her writing is informed by her work with batterers and victims of domestic violence, as well her experience with youth impacted by street violence. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center. She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: R for language, some sex (but mostly married and not terribly graphic)
How I’d judge this cover: On the whole, thumbs up–though Maddy is described as having darker hair. It always bothers me when the model on the cover doesn’t match the character in the book because it makes it seem as if the cover designer didn’t read the story.
Would I read another by this author? Definitely (though I’d love it if the next didn’t have quite so much salty language)
Why this story matters: As it explores the complexities of family and the will to forgive.
My take: Accidents of Marriage is the first of Randy Susan Meyers’ novels I’ve read, but surely not my last. This was a powerful story by a skilled storyteller, a tale I won’t soon forget. I must say this at the outset, though: The language is brutal–to the point that I almost put it down. But the story is so compelling I decided to stick with it, see where it was going–and I’m glad I did. Looking at the story as a whole, there’s actually a point to the profanity, if you can stomach it.
Sometimes, especially in the first few chapters, I stumbled a bit over some sentence syntax, occasionally having to go back and reread, but then things smoothed out and I got caught up in the flow. Don’t know if this was an editing issue or just me. Probably just me.
The story unfolds from three points of view: Maddy, the wife and mother; Ben, the husband and father; Emma, their oldest daughter. It wouldn’t have worked without Ben’s perspective. Outwardly he is so wholly unlikable–monstrous at times–that the reader really requires knowing him from the inside out in order to have even a glimmering of sympathy for him. Emma’s perspective adds texture to an otherwise very adult tale–although at times her maturity seems to outdistance her years.
This is the kind of novel that makes me impatient with life (i.e., responsibilities) because mine kept interrupting my reading time. I couldn’t wait to learn what happened next in the lives of these characters I came to care for–yes, even Ben.
Again, one of those gritty books that’s not for everyone, but I found it utterly gripping and heartrendingly real.
Thanks to Atria Books/Simon & Schuster for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.