Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Fly Away Home
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria
Published: July 13, 2010
Hardcover: 397 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician's wife-her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator. 

Lizzie, the Woodruffs' younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve-a husband, a young son, the perfect home-and yet she's trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER's exam rooms, she finds herself craving more. 

After Richard's extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be. 

My Thoughts: We live in a country where politicians often make the headlines not for the good work they are doing for the country, but for their infidelity and lying. Jennifer Weiner's latest book explores the infidelity of a politican, Richard Woodruff, and how his life as a politician has affected his wife, Sylvie, and two daughters, Diana and Lizzie. While this is not a groundbreaking plot (given the latest political scandals of Arnold's love child and John Edward's being charged with using campaign funds for his mistress), it is something that I have not really considered before. I certainly had opinions of those women standing behind their husbands as they admitted their wrongdoings and I couldn't help but wonder, "Why are these women standing up there, supporting their cheating husbands?!?" Weiner explores that in her book, about how Sylvie can stand behind her husband at his press conference, announcing his infidelity to the world. Sylvie takes you into that world of the scorned wife, of someone who has spent her life supporting her husband and his political aspirations, and how it can all come crashing down so quickly and leave one feeling stripped of their identity.

The novel is told from 3 different points of view, with the chapters being told from Sylvie, Diana, and Lizzie's points of view. Each woman is struggling with her own issues, so it's easy to relate to at least one of the women in this story. Sylvie is trying to discover who she is and what she wants after years of supporting her husband. Diana is suffering from fidelity issues of her own and the pressures of being a working mother and wife. Lizzie is a recovering addict, trying to live a substance-free life and truly experience a drug-free world. The character's voices don't differ that much, but their stories all come together to tell a story of how family shapes each of us, how the decisions our parents make when we are young will affect us for the rest of our lives.

Weiner is a fabulous writer, one who can craft a story that most of us will never live through, but something that we witness constantly in our society. The cheating spouse and the family that is left to pick up the pieces afterwards. The story is strong, and if the character's voices had differed a little, I would have liked this book even more. I am looking forward to reading more from Weiner in the future and would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for that classic summer read.

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