A few months ago, I read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen and there was a chapter about women and literature, and more specifically, about Jennifer Weiner and her feud with Jonathan Franzen. That made me want to read one of her books to see how I felt about her work. When I saw that her latest one – Mrs. Everything – was coming out this Summer, I knew I had to read it! I didn’t really enjoy it, however.
This novel tells the story of two sisters, Bethie and Jo. Growing up in 1950s Detroit, their roles in their traditional house are perfectly defined. But, when life unfolds, things don’t go exactly as they planned. Jo ends up trapped in a life she didn’t envisioned for herself and, Bethie, on the other hand, who was always cautious and careful, becomes an adventurer and independent woman. This novel is essentially about dreams, courage, homosexuality and an eternal bond, also exploring topics like racism.
Although the premise sounds interesting, I couldn’t enjoy neither the plot nor the writing. The story and the characters are too clichéd, predictable and stereotypical. In fact, this book didn’t make me ask questions and, to be honest, I felt bored while reading it. I also think Mrs. Everything could have been way shorter. I want to say that I could really feel this book had potential and could have been interesting, though. But it never got there.
I’d like to thank Atria Books for sending a review copy. You can buy the book here.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect ‘Dick and Jane’ house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking differently than what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and Women’s Lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture, and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, or has a life that feels authentic, or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history – and herstory – as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.
Published on: June 2019