Published by Simon & Schuster on August 25th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women, Family Life
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
From the beloved books editor at Glamour magazine comes a heartfelt and painfully funny debut about what happens when a wife and mother of three leaps at the chance to fulfill her professional destiny—only to learn every opportunity comes at a price.
In A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor, and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker, or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers—an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life—seems suddenly within reach.
Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up, and her work takes an unexpected turn. Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she—Alice Pearse—really want?
This story brought me to tears. There is nothing in the synopsis that lead me to believe it would bring on the feels, but this story really spoke to me and made me cry big fat ugly tears. A Window Opens was such a nice surprise about career, child rearing, friendships, family ties, and love.
Alice is the other of three children. She is happily married with two loving and supportive parents. Her best friend owns a bookstore and Alice is part of the team that runs a book club, and she works part time for a magazine. Life is good for Alice. Everything changes for her when her lawyer husband comes home and tells her he is quitting her job and going to start his own practice. Alice gets a full-time job at a company that threatens to put bookshops, like her best friend’s, out of business. Her dad’s cancer comes back, and her husband starts drinking too much. Alice is completely overwhelmed and must dig deep to find balance and room for the things that make her really happy.
There was so much I could relate to in the story of Alice. A Window Opens explores the balance of family and work life and then tips it. As Alice begins her new career, her kids are being cared for by the babysitter, Jessie, whose story brought me to tears. Her father is battling cancer. After beating it into remission years ago, he lost his voice and some of his dignity. His story brought me to tears. As her husband Nicolas starts to loose his grip on being the big shot lawyer and bringing home the bacon, I could totally relate to the situation. I also loved the honesty of Alice’s relationship with her mother, and her teenage daughter.
The thing that really took me by surprise was Alice’s love of books and reading in this story. She starts off at a magazine but her real passion is for reading. The author describes a person who is raising her children to love reading and gives Alice good morals. I loved hearing her and her co-worker’s choices for first edition prints and the loving way they are handled.
The only thing I could find fault with, and it is a minor thing, is that Alice starts off with such a good life it is almost hard to feel sorry for her. The real issue of money is not something she struggles with at any point in this story, but that doesn’t mean she is any less like-able. Her struggles are real and completely relate-able. This book gave me all the good feels I expect from a good read and even managed to surprise me. I give it 5 enthusiastic stars for being awesome!