17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In edgy and insightful prose, Attenberg manages to be brutally honest and entertaining, her characters defined by the human imperfections that spring to life when dreams are thwarted, no matter how unrealistic those dreams may be. With persistent precision, the author pulls her protagonists' lives apart like fragile butterfly wings, exposing the soft underbellies of disappointed youth and the harsh reality of adulthood, the defense mechanisms that become more practiced with age and experience.
Maggie marries predictable Robert because he is thoughtful, or so she believes when first they meet. His more than adequate salary provides everything she needs; Maggie becomes adept at hiding her real self, tucking it deep inside while she smiles at her husband approvingly, sporting her massive diamond wedding set. When she finally shares some of her thoughts with Robert, he is appalled, unbelieving and judgmental, just as she has expected, but Maggie is coming of age. Holly, Maggie's older sister, is single more by accident than intent, spending hours perusing dating sites on the internet, enjoying the clever fictions of the posts, the small lies and ingenious remarks that turn frog into prince. These online Lotharios are always a disappointment in person, a cross between very lonely guys and emotional cripples. Holly's first boyfriend, her first love, seems so very long ago.
Sarah Lee has been waiting all her life, always on the outside looking in, hyper-aware that everyone has someone but her, ever since the one who got away. She savors the perfection of the moment, knowing that once the bite is taken from the apple, it will never be so sweet again. She prepares for that moment, waiting for her chance at love, her small but precious taste of the forbidden fruit.
The protagonists are further defined by the peripheral characters in their lives, the odd acquaintances and ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, girlfriends, Holly and Maggie's famous writer-father, grasping at youth and notoriety as the years encroach, his children as distant as the old photographs carefully placed on bedside tables in their unused rooms. Time passes inexorably by, lovers missing each other on the way to romantic trysts and one-night stands, anxious to seal the deal. With acute perception, Attenberg delves below the brittle surface of what looks like love, probing the deepest yearnings, hopes and doubts of her characters. Luan Gaines/ 2006.