Nan is fifty. She feels the weight of her body, its sudden changes, the weight of her marriage and her little sadnesses, and she gets up and into her car and drives away. Left behind is her husband Martin, and their daughter, Ruthie, away in college.
This isn’t new. I’ve read many stories of runaway wives and mothers. Runaway rich, ex-hippie wives and mothers, who meet interesting characters during their road trip. Of course. But what makes this novel special for me is Nan herself, with her clear-eyed insights about age and marriage, and her honesty.
When I got to the grocery store, the oddest thing happened. I found it very, very difficult to buy anything. I would pick something up, then think, no, it’s Ruthie who really likes pineapple. No, Martin is the one who loves London broil. I wanted to get something special, a real treat, something I liked to cook and liked even more to eat, but everything I picked up, I put back. Finally, I leaned against the dairy case and thought, well, come on, Nan, what do YOU really, really like? And then I thought, my God, I don’t know. I’ve forgotten.
This novel is told through Nan’s letters to Martin and their daughter, and entries from her journal. Most runaways, they run and never look back. Not Nan, though. Every day she sits down to write in her journal, and to write to her family. Every day she learns something new about herself. In a way this is like a coming-of-age story. Not necessarily the term you’d use for a story with a protagonist that is already fifty years old, but the body becomes new when it becomes old. New in the sense that it becomes foreign, surprising, puzzling. Sometimes even frightening.
My mother is fifty. Many times while reading this book I would stop and stare into space, just wondering if my mother feels this way. If I would feel this way, when I get to be that age.
The Mighty Reading List!
Feast for Crows The Kobayashi Maru of Love Showbiz Lengua PGS Horror issue Floating Dragon
El Bimbo Variations The Tesseract
Our Story Begins
Here on Earth
The Pull of the Moon