Does every second wife look like Julia Roberts? Lu Klein certainly doesn't, and her life is anything but glamorous. When she married a man with children, Lu had no idea that she was also marrying his shrewish ex-wife, Beatrix. And Beatrix had no idea that making a new home with her second husband would mean welcoming her wicked teenage stepdaughter, Liv. And Liv's mother Roxie had no idea that so many new and exciting boyfriends could make her long for the stable life she and her ex had too eagerly left behind.
In this tightly interconnected collection of ten short stories, author Laura Ruby chronicles the progress of Lu, Beatrix, Roxie and their various steps and exes as they take the perilous plunge into the maelstrom of the so-called "blended family." Both ruefully funny and wickedly insightful, I Am Not Julia Roberts offers finely-observed, honest and affecting takes on kids, step-kids, divorce, remarriage...and the movie Stepmom.
Ruby, whose third YA novel Good Girls is due this fall, starts off with a fresh, sardonic wit in this linked collection of divorce stories, but the unnerving stepchildren, sordid affairs and malevolent exes soon begin to blur. Suburban, self-absorbed Lu ("Lupe Klein, neither Hispanic nor Jewish") never expected to play mother to Ward Harrison's three complicated sons or have to deal with his ex-wife, Beatrix. While Beatrix is in a state of blind marital bliss with her new husband, Alan, she is not ready for Alan's mean-spirited, teenage daughter, Liv. Liv's mother, Roxie, not yet remarried but dating her friend Moira's unscrupulous ex-, Tate, is desperately trying to figure out how to balance her relationship with Tate while maintaining her bond with Liv. There are five couples in all, including Moira and second husband Ben, and Tate's sister Glynn (divorced from Derek) and her second husband, George plus assorted children. A chapter moving backward in time and composed of e-mails, instant messages and snail mail detailing their entanglements is more disorienting than anything else.