Ten-Year Nap (Review)

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The Ten-Year Nap
Meg Wolitzer, 2008
400 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
April 2009

Meg Wolitzer is a terrific writer. She's funny, wise and trenchant—a fine portraitist of the small gesture, the moments that make up our lives.

Here she considers women, a generation after the onset of feminism, who opted out of the Career-With-Kids-I-Can-Do-It-All path. But now their children are 10, in school till mid-afternoon, which leads moms wondering how to fill up their time?

The book opens on a typical school morning. Alarm clocks go off all over NYC and its surrounds, waking up women from...well, from more than just a night's sleep. Given the title, the alarms represent a larger wake-up call.

The novel is told primarily through the voices of four women—all friends who've put their dreams on hold and who now question their lives, marriages, and usefulness. Marital, financial, and child-rearing stress add to their angst. But Wolitzer is careful not to bog us down in a depressing miasma. She's too much of a sharp, witty observer to allow that— some of her writing will make you snort with knowing laughter. (Well, I snort.)

My only gripe about Nap is its busyness—so many characters to follow that, while I sympathized, it was hard to care deeply about them. The ending, by the way, is ambiguous—but smart—which I do appreciate. After all, there is no easy instruction manual on Having-It-All, not for men or women. That's equality.

I think there will be meaty discussions with this book.

See our Reading Guide for The Ten-Year Nap.

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