Our Short History
by Lauren Grodstein
Why did you choose this book? The drama of the synopsis
When did you read this book? April 2016
Who should read this book? Readers who enjoy stories of family
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
My Rating: ☆☆☆½ 3½ Stars
Here is a synopsis of Our Short History from Goodreads
Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant, has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. She’s had to be: when Jacob’s father, Dave, found out Karen was pregnant and made it clear that fatherhood wasn’t in his plans, Karen walked out of the relationship, never telling Dave her intention was to raise their child alone.
But now Jake is asking to meet his dad, and with good reason: Karen is dying. When she finally calls her ex, she’s shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the son he never knew he had. First, he can’t meet Jake fast enough, and then, he can’t seem to leave him alone.
With just a few more months to live, Karen resists allowing Dave to insinuate himself into Jake’s life. As she tries to play out her last days in the “right” way, Karen wrestles with the truth that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son--let his father become a permanent part of his life--is the thing he needs from her the most. With heart-wrenching poignancy, unexpected wit, and mordant humor, Lauren Grodstein has created an unforgettable story about parenthood, sacrifice, and life itself.
I almost didn’t pick this one up. The synopsis really grabbed me, but I’d had a previous experience with this author a few years ago when The Explanation For Everything left me so disappointed. In the end, however, the pull of the synopsis was just too much and I requested a review copy though the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I’m glad I did.
Karen was an interesting woman with some complex issues to work through, but luckily she had a very supportive family to help her through. Her little sister Allie and her family were at first glance too good to be true, but though there wasn’t a lot of time spent on the family dynamics, there was enough to let you know they really weren’t perfect. And while I didn’t always agree with Karen’s decisions her justifications, it was easy to understand why she felt as she did. And though we didn’t get to really know Dave well, he was a likeable guy, even if Karen felt differently. The story was written from Karen’s point of view, and often a ‘he said - she said’ story about the birth of little Jake, so we really don’t know which version is correct. The star of this story, by the way, is Jake, a cute, energetic six-year-old with all the characteristics that come with being six! My only real issue is where the story ended — I would have liked to have known more about the evolution of Karen’s relationship with Dave and his wife, Megan. But ending it where it did prevented the story from being a tear-jerker, and it’s pretty easy to guess how it all ended, so I’m not really disappointed.
This was a quick read and will be great for a lazy, rainy weekend. Even better will be to get your book club to read and discuss it as there is so much to discuss. I’ve not been able to find discussion questions, but groups should find it easy to discuss with questions like how will Karen’s relationship with the father of her child evolve? Does she stick to her original plan to live out her remaining days with her sister? What choices SHOULD Karen make? And so much more!
You can read a short excerpt of the book on the publisher’s website.
I won a copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.