“Restless in L.A.” by Robin Finn

 

Alex is approaching forty and suddenly doesn’t know what she wants in life. She has three kids, a great husband, and a lovely house, and she’s drowning in all her good fortune, which isn’t actually that good. Her middle child has ADHD and is constantly getting into trouble at school, the other children resent all the time and energy he takes, her husband is only supportive providing he doesn’t actually have to do anything, and she spends all her time doing chores, running errands, and taking care of everyone in her life except for herself. Instead of being the writer she’d once dreamed of being, Alex is now a nanny and a chauffeur, shuttling her kids to dance, soccer, and therapy appointments. Then one day she friends an old flame on Facebook, and her life is turned upside down.

Alex’s story is typical, which doesn’t make it any less real and compelling. Like countless other women, she’s submerged herself in what her family–first her parents, then her husband and children–want from her, until she doesn’t know who she is or what she wants for herself at all, if she ever did. Alex’s first-person narrative about her day-to-day activities is interspersed with entries from the anonymous blog she’s started posting, and journal entries and flashbacks from her affair twenty years ago with the handsome and compelling Matt Daniels, whom she has just invited back into her life. This jumping back and forth is skillfully handled and heightens the tension, as we know that Alex and Matt’s relationship broke off, but we don’t know why until Alex herself figures it out after reviewing her old journal entries and memories, and coming to some long-overdue realizations.

Readers are likely either to find Alex extremely sympathetic, or not at all, depending on whether they think that well-to-do stay-at-home moms who are trying to find themselves are a fit subject for literature, or not. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been written about in other romance and “women’s fiction” novels before, but Alex’s soul-searching is particularly profound, and her struggles to deal with her child with ADHD, who continues to have problems despite–or maybe because of–all his therapy sessions and the cocktail of drugs he’s being given, add a layer of depth to the story and are likely to ring a bell for readers going through similar issues. There is also a fair amount of explicit sex in the novel, which you’ll enjoy if that’s your thing, but readers should be aware that this is not a completely “clean” read. It is, however, a compelling one, and a worthwhile entry to the genre of women’s fiction.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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