Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, by Ruth Pennebaker

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker: Book CoverFinished 4-6-11, rating 4/5, fiction, 304 pages, pub. 2011

Three generations of women living together could be a reason to celebrate and appreciate, but not in Joanie’s house.  She’s recently divorced with a teenage daughter and a judgemental mother forced to live with her because of the recession.  Joanie is  the glue and that’s not saying much since she and her mother spend ample time not speaking to each other.  She is struggling with a new job and a daughter with pink hair.  Oh yeah, and her ex-husband is expecting a baby with his much younger girlfriend. 

Mary Margaret was the kind of friend she laughed and gossiped and drank with, though.  She wouldn’t be interested in Joanie’s doubts about herself.  You had different friends for different facets of your life, Joanie supposed.  There were friends you talked to and friends you listened to.  It was a rare friendship that combined both.

page 13

Caroline is your typical teen, struggling with popularity, unrequited love, trying drugs and, yes, serving said drugs to her grandmother.  She was my favorite character.

There was something sobering about being listened to and treated with respect by an adult.  But it reminded Caroline of something she didn’t really want to know: She was a small actor in a big world of many people.  Her own worldview-dominated by herself and her misery and her inadequacies and her crazy family-wasn’t the way other people viewed life.  She might be smaller and less significant than she ever wanted to know.

page 215

Ivy is easy to dislike.  She is prejudiced, judgemental, and a cold fish.  She doesn’t even bother calling her granddaughter by her name, preferring to refer to her as the girl.  I spent most of the time really disliking her, but I won’t tell you if she redeems herself, you’ll have to read it to find out.

Suddenly, Ivy missed the company of someone who had known her for years.  Who had seen her hair grow gray, then white.  Who had watched her middle thicken, and her shoes turn lower and stockier.  Someone who knew who she used to be and how she’d come to be what she was.  Someone who knew she  hadn’t started out like this; she had once been someone else, someone vibrant and energetic.

page 106

This is an easy to read book about people who you’ll recognize.  Although it dealt with weighty issues, it never became a heavy book.  It managed to maintain its light feel while still touching you.  My only disappointment was that the end seemed to just peter out.  It really needed more of a conclusion, or if you are going by the title, a breakthrough.  It was still a very enjoyable book.

This was graciously sent to be by PR by the Book

23 thoughts on “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough, by Ruth Pennebaker

  1. Kay says:

    I love the title – don’t we all feel like that at times? LOL

    Looking forward to reading this one as several have reviewed it at this point. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Bumbles says:

    I love that passage from Joanie. She is spot on – there are different friends for different pieces of our lives. The combo ones are true gems and need to be held on to tightly.

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