Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
The Plot: Kate used to have a job and a life. OK, it was as a glorified gossip columnist, but it was fun! Now she's an at-home mom, stuck in the suburbs; but to make things oh so worse, everyone around her is a Martha Stewart mom (you know, hand made baby food, elaborate birthday parties, dress as if they are in a magazine.) Basically, she's the Odd Girl Out in a land of Queen Bees. To make matters worse, her husband is convinced that Kate should be one of these Stepford moms and gets angry that Kate doesn't try to "fit in." Things get interesting when Kate finds one of those oh-so-perfect moms dead in her own kitchen; and Kate cannot help herself. She wants to find out who did it; and as she does so, she discovers the dark underside of the suburbs.
The Good: A nice mystery with a likable main character. Kate, overweight even before children, doesn't fit in with the slender fashion police of the suburbs; Kate wishes she had never left New York City. Kate's real; you can imagine calling her up, hanging out with her, and wondering how and why those perfect Moms do it.
Kate is trapped in Stepford land with lies upon lies, a shallow husband, and no escape. This is all told with humor and love. And despite it all Kate is not a complainer; rather, she is frustrated that she's stuck in a town that judges her on what type of shoes she wears and how much she spends on her son's birthday party.
But on to the mystery. In an odd way, perfect Kitty's death is almost wish fulfillment; and I think Kate wants to solve the mystery partly out of guilt. It is also the first interesting thing she's encountered in three years; and it turns out to involve her. One of the last people perfect Kitty spoke with? Kate's old boyfriend.
I like that Kate's a good enough mother; because a perfect mother would be annoying. And Weiner respects the moms out there, by saying good enough is fine; if anything, good enough is better than perfect.
Have I mentioned that Kate is funny as hell? I laughed out loud all the way through the book. Weiner is a talented writer; in lesser hands, I would have told Kate to stop whining, that there are people out there with real problems. But Kate doesn't whine. And her own problems are very real.
Finally, I love the ending; it wraps up Kate's personal stories as well as the mystery; and, it's not what I would have predicted.
Do you read Weiner's blog? It is fabulous. I love her (but not in a stalker way; in a she sounds like a lot of fun and says what I think way.)