- Title: Woman No. 17
- Author: Edan Lepucki
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Structure: First-person linear narration with alternating points-of-view
- First Line: “It was summer.”
Synopsis: High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She’s going to need a hand with her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s young toddler son, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage, one. S. performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to one another as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book. To be honest, I don’t think the synopsis does a great job of detailing what it’s really about.
- The characters are truly likable. I felt like I could relate to both main characters on some level. I won’t deny: some of the things they did were really twisted. But, as a whole, I found the characters stayed true to present day. It may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve come across several books recently that don’t make any of the characters likable or relatable. So, kudos.
- This book touches on a taboo subject (I talked a little about it on my Instagram): bad mothers. I don’t mean it in the ironic way of how women may call themselves “bad” mothers on social media as a way to relate that they’re human and make mistakes, which is all well and good. I mean actually cruel, wicked, and downright messed up mothers. I have witnessed them and have witnessed their affects on my loved ones/friends. Like I said in that Insta post, there is a special kind of grief for someone who grew up with a horrible mother: the grief of dealing with their cruelty and the grief of dealing with it in silence. So, thank you, Edan Lepucki for finally touching this topic and doing so so thoroughly!
- The book moves at a pretty good pace and the writing is pretty good as well. There were only a couple moments of a stall, but they were brief. It’s definitely a book you can whip through quickly, which I like.
I think this book was middle-of-the-row for me, which is not a bad thing, but I just don’t think it’s anything to write home about. The first thing that struck me while reading this book is how off the synopsis is. The summary makes it seem like you’re going to be reading a light book about secrets and turns of events. No, no, no. This book is heavier than that. So much so that the summary is almost an insult to it. I think the summary makes the book sound boring and unimportant, and it’s neither of those things.
There are also some pieces of the book that aren’t believable. I know fiction comes with its own creative writes, but when the novel is trying to stay current and authentic, then it should stay in that realm. The little pieces of it that aren’t believable weren’t big things, but they were definitely distracting.
There is strong language and profanity in this book along with several provocative scenes. Definitely not one for the kids to read, so just be aware of that. And, as another forewarning, if you grew up in a challenging home, this book may be highly triggering to you. I don’t mean that tongue-in-cheek. I mean this book paints highly realistic moments/images of cruel, mean mothers. So, if you struggled with an abusive mother, proceed with caution.
THE SWEET SPOTS
In this section, I cover some of my deeper, personal thoughts. Books are meant to make you think. I always think the best books are the ones that help you discover pieces of yourself.
- Did this book remind you of anything that has happened to you?: As I mentioned above, it puts on a spotlight on cruel mothers. I say words like “cruel”, “wicked”, and “toxic” because it’s beyond “bad parenting” where someone might have to skip a recital because of a work dinner. What I’m talking about (and what this book talks about) are mothers so twisted that they cause seriously tangible destruction and damage and, most of the time, it’s intentional. That may be hard for most people (at least I hope so) to understand, but I’ve witnessed it first-hand happen to people who are near and dear to me. I’ve even been caught up in the cruelty with other people’s mothers. We always hear about horrible fathers, but not about horrible mothers.
- Did this book give you any new ideas of yourself?: I thought it was interesting to see the way the characters interacted. One character was trying to become the clone of her mother and the other one was trying to be the complete opposite of her mother. In the end (no spoilers, promise), they both are like their mothers. It lends to what I was told by my grandmother and my mother growing up: “What you think about, you become”. The one character was so focused on being different than her mother that she became like her anyway.
- What lesson did you learn?: The truth, no matter how painful, is always the better option. What you think, you become. Codependency does not give you control, it strips you of it. What you may think is your biggest flaw is something that someone else may find the most beautiful, so don’t be so fast to write it off.
I’d give this a 4/5 stars. I love that Edan Lepucki touched on a taboo topic in such gruesome detail. I think this is something that you can easily bring to the beach/pool and enjoy it. There were some points where it gets a little too twisted for my tastes, but I’m glad the author took risks with it. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure where the story was going at times and there were some misrepresented parts. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.
GET YOUR COPY HERE!
I received Women No. 17 from the Book of the Month Club for May 2017. It was so great to receive personalized book recommendations at my doorstep! Honestly, I’m not sure if I would’ve picked up and experienced Woman No. 17 if it wasn’t for BOTM. You can join the club here for under $20 a month!
*Thank you Book of the Month Club for sponsoring this. All opinions are my own.