Out for the day with her daughter, our protagonist encounters a homeless woman about her own age. A few minutes later, on their way to suburbia, she thinks:
I was a world away from the woman we'd seen. That woman -- she was what addiction looked like. Not me. Not me.
And that, my friends, is what heavy-handed irony looks like. When Chapter 1 ends this way, you know it's going to be a rough ride.
I wasn't sure what to expect out of this one -- from the description alone, it was clear that Weiner was going for something out of the norm for her -- this wasn't going to be comedic, not that romantic. Instead it'd be dark, dealing with a very serious subject matter. The prose wouldn't be as breezy, the character probably wouldn't be that likeable. Sounded good to me -- I wanted to see how she could pull it off. It'd be different, but I figured she could (and I welcomed that). Would this be the thing that got her that literary cred she seems to be looking for?
It was a valiant effort. But it just didn't work for me.
She was close though. Really close. Which just served to underline how she didn't reach her goal.
Allison Weiss (who I couldn't help but seeing as an out-of-shape version of Orphan Black's Alison Hendrix) is a mom (of an impossible child), a successful blogger (possibly too successful to believe), wife, daughter of a man in early stages of Alzheimer's, and a pill-popper in deep denial.
Part 1 sets the scene for us -- introduces us to the major characters, Allison's friends, family, and boss -- and her pills. Part 2 shows how the wheels start to come off for her -- in terms of work, her marriage, her family and her addiction. Part 3 gets her into rehab and coming to terms with her problem. Part 4 picks up following that in a rushed wrap-up.
Part 1 was okay enough -- it got the job done. Part 2 was rough -- it's hard enough watching a character you like, that you're invested in run into trouble -- but an unsympathetic character surrounded by characters she hasn't let us get to know well enough to like? It's just so rough. I had to force myself through this part, knowing that rehab was on the horizon. That part was worse -- the rehab facility, clients, workers, counselors -- all of that jibed with what I know about rehab facilities and 12-step programs; and even Allison's reaction seemed textbook. But something about that part bothered me. Maybe because it was all so textbook. Weiner'd done her homework and she let it be shown. But it's more than that -- here was her chance to make us like Allison, see her doing the work she needed to do. For the reader to start to like her. But it didn't happen.
Part 4 was the worst. In her rush for a conclusion, Weiner left a lot of things hanging. Which isn't the same as unresolved -- I'm not talking about a need to tie everything up in a pretty little bow. Weiner simply abandoned so many things in that it took away from the closure she gave (or at least strongly suggested).
I actually had a laundry list of complaints and problems with this, but I'm going to forgo it. It'd be hard to avoid spoilers and I just don't think it'd be that interesting to read. Let me just leave it as -- I was disappointed in this one and would advise passing on it.