"A breezy yet affecting read filled with struggle and hope."—People
A Good Day LA Pick
Among fake Instagram pages, long-buried family secrets, and the horrors of middle school, one suburban mom searches to find herself.
Alice Sullivan feels like she’s finally found her groove in middle age, but it only takes one moment for her perfectly curated life to unravel. On the same day she learns her daughter is struggling in second grade, a call from her son’s school accusing him of bullying throws Alice into a tailspin.
When it comes to light that the incident is part of a new behavior pattern for her son, one complete with fake social media profiles with a lot of questionable content, Alice’s social standing is quickly eroded to one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids. Soon she’s facing the very judgement she was all too happy to dole out when she thought no one was looking (or when she thought her house wasn’t made of glass).
Then her mother unloads a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years, and Alice’s entire perception of herself is shattered.
As her son’s new reputation polarizes her friendships and her family buzzes with the ramification of her mother’s choices, Alice realizes that she’s been too focused on measuring her success and happiness by everyone else's standards. Now, with all her shortcomings laid bare, she’ll have to figure out to whom to turn for help and decide who she really wants to be.
In West's funny page-turner (after Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes), a mother struggles to help her children navigate the challenges of school without losing sight of her career. Alice Sullivan's life is imploding. Her daughter, Adrian, is behind in second grade reading; her seventh grader, Teddy, is accused of bullying a classmate; her architectural design business partner is losing patience over Alice's personal life distractions; and Alice's husband is often away on business trips. The narrative unfolds via several viewpoints, including Alice's childhood friend Meredith Yoshida; Meredith's synchronized-skating champ daughter, Sadie; Alice's adoptive mother, Evelyn Brown, a psychologist; and Teddy, who taunts Sadie over suggestive photos posted on her "Finsta" account. Meanwhile, a series of lewd drawings appear around town ("Who would draw a rocket ship in permanent ink?" asks a concerned, naive parent on NextDoor). West has her hand on the pulse of adolescent angst fed by academic and social pressure, jealousies and raging hormones all compounded by social media but also the self-doubts experienced by parents (mothers in particular) who can be as lost as their children when it comes to handling the challenges of puberty. Soulful and entertaining, this offers plenty of insight on the space children need to make their own mistakes.