In these twelve deft, acutely funny and often heartbreaking stories, Kate Walbert delves into the hearts and minds of women. Her characters are searchers, uneasy in one way or another. They yearn for connection. They question the definitions assigned to them as wives, mothers, and daughters; they seek their own way within isolated, and often isolating, circumstances, reveling in small, everyday epiphanies and moments of clarity.
In the riveting opening story “M&M World,” a woman is plunged into panic when she briefly loses one of her daughters at the vast and over-stimulating Times Square store. In “Slow the Heart,” a single mother tries to ease tension at the dinner table with Roses and Thorns, the game she knows the Obamas played in the White House. In “Radical Feminists,” a woman skating with her two children encounters the man who derailed her career years earlier. And in the poignant, “A Mother Is Someone Who Tells Jokes,” a mother reflects on the nursery school project that preceded her son’s autism diagnosis. This is a deeply moving, resonant collection from a writer “rightly celebrated for her ability to capture the variety and vulnerability of women’s lives with a combination of lyricism and brawn” (NPR).