For a first novel, Some Things that Meant the World…
As someone who sits down in front of her computer to tell the Internet about books she’s read, I wish I had a better way to discuss book that are okay. That are shrug, fine. It feels like damning with faint praise if you’re not all exclamation marks and heart eyes. But not all books can be life-alteringly good or shit it all down bad. Some books are just fine, nice ways to pass the time, amusing and interesting enough to keep you going but nothing that you press breathlessly into someone’s hands muttering “you have to read this.”
Enter Lauren Fox’s Days of Awe, a perfectly fine way to spend some time.
In this one we meander through the life of Isabel Moore, a middle-school teacher, mother to a cantankerous 11-year-old insomniac, who recently separated from her husband and is grieving the loss of her BFF Josie who died suddenly in a one-car accident.
Meander is a good way to put it. We flit back and forth through time with Isabel kind of giving us the highlights of her life: when she first met her husband, when she met Josie, and other big emotional events. Interspersed with these flashbacks is Isabel in the present day trying to make sense of Josie’s loss, dealing with her aging mother, her cranky daughter, her estranged husband.
There isn’t much plot here to draw you through the book. It floats along on a steady stream of grief and memories. The saving grace and what kept me going is that Isabel is funny. Even when she’s so bitter about all the loss she’s endured in the past year, she’s still funny and kind of self-deprecating too, which saves her from being insufferable. She could have easily been a total asshole, and she still has her assy moments but at least she has enough self-awareness to realize it.
I liked Isabel and that’s why I didn’t put down this one where not a lot happens. I also liked reading about someone grieving the loss of a dear friend and how much value that relationship had to her.
Like I said, this one isn’t gonna set you on fire, and that’s okay. There’s something to be said for quiet books that are amusing enough.