The angst of the mother-daughter relationship is thoroughly explored in this book as only the skillful writing of Laura Moriarty can do. However, also contained in this book is exploration of an example of how a long time marriage can end up in divorce. The book is structured around the parallel actions of a mother and her daughter, and as things develop their lives appear to be mirror images of each other. They both make mistakes, and they are both "falling" from their former lives into a potentially sad future. The question is, will the daughter be doomed to suffer similar consequences to those of her mother? Conversely, can the mother learn from the daughter?
The mix of family relationships includes the father, a second daughter (sister), a prospective new step mother, and of course a whole host of other characters who add suspense, love, empathy and confusing complications to the story. Anybody who has experienced the tensions of college student life -- study time versus party time -- will be able to identify with the first person narrative of Veronica, the daughter who is a student at KU. Anyone who has experienced a marriage breakup will probably be able to identify with some of the feelings expressed in the story of Veronica's mother and father as well.
The themes contained in this book will touch the lives of many readers. For those who finish the book, I believe it will enhance appreciation of their relationships with friends and family, and it will encourage their nurturing of personal relationships with loving care.
The book contains some references to and quotes from George Eliot's Middlemarch that literature buffs can appreciate. It would be an interesting exercise to compare the two novels. That brings to mind my favorite George Eliot quotation. "It's never too late to be who you might have been." That quote fits well with this book.
Another thought I had while listening to this book, "Youth is wasted on the young," (George Bernard Shaw). This book also seems to be saying that experience is wasted on the old.