Up Late with Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down

I’ve been reading Jennifer Weiner since she wrote Good in Bed in 2001. I’ve always connected with her characters and enjoyed her writing style.  Perhaps I also felt a kind of connection to her because she grew up in a town close to where I grew up (Simsbury, CT) and then worked the education beat for the paper where I now live (The Centre Daily Times).  Recently she’s been a strong social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and she was featured in a profile in the New Yorker about her “quest for literary respect.” This reader has the greatest respect for her-needless to say, I enjoy her as both an author and a feminist presence on the internet.

This is Jennifer Weiner’s eleventh book, and once again, her voice is strong and her characters are complex.  Allison Weiss has it all: husband, adorable little girl, job as a blogger, house in the suburbs.  But she also has a distant mother and a father with Alzheimer’s.  She’s trying to run a household, raise a child and meet the demands of a job that seems to claim every spare minute. And she’s worried about the distance her husband has been keeping lately–he’s been sleeping in the guest room and won’t talk about it. In order to cope, she takes pills.  Just a few at first, but then mommy’s little helper becomes an addiction that causes her to place her daughter in danger.  

I was not as drawn in to this book as quickly as I have to others in the past, because I couldn’t quite connect with the protagonist.  I’m not a mom, I’m not interested in being a mom, and it sort of annoyed me that Allison was so stressed out (disclaimer–I have lots of mom friends and I respect the stressful work they do raising amazing kids…I just got a little annoyed with the character at first.  Although maybe she was supposed to be a little annoying? Also, maybe I was just a little cranky?). I did enjoy the incident when she went on television to be an advocate for women’s rights and speak out about victim blaming.  Perhaps that was the turning point for me–when the focus shifted to her job and her beliefs. As she devolved into taking more pills and rationalizing it, I was drawn in by her struggle to balance the demands of her life, her family, and her job.  When she ended up in rehab, I was thoroughly hooked (no pun intended). 

I thought it was fascinating how Weiner was able to show her character’s rationalization of her addiction, but simultaneously critique the rehab system and note the male-centric recovery, including the outdated Big Book.  One of my favorite elements of this book was the revamped musical numbers with lyrics that applied to rehab.  I would love to see a musical based on the rehab experience.  Maybe that will be her next project?  At any rate, once I got into this, it was a fast read. So pick it up, because it will be hard to put it down.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

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Up Late with Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down

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