Four friends meet weekly at a NYC café to share the trials and joys of motherhood over coffee and bagels. Such is the premise for Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten Year Nap. The story examines the lives and choices of several mothers, who have placed their careers on hold to stay home and raise their kids. The protagonist of Wolitzer’s novel, Amy, studied literature, became a lawyer because it seemed like the right thing to do, married another lawyer and then made the choice to stay home. Sound familiar? You bet. Amy’s situation, of course, resonated with me and compelled me to read further.
Familiarity, however, is not enough. Though Amy’s situation struck several chords with me, I did not grow to love her, or empathize with her. In fact, I found her to be annoying. As I did with many of the other characters. Wolitzer’s women, while complex and self-deprecating, are privileged and whiny. I wanted to love them, feel their angst, laugh hysterically at the way they addressed their guilt, boredom and joy. But I couldn’t. I often struggle with my decision to stay home. But the reality is that I’m too busy and tired to address those emotions in a real way. Perhaps I turned to this book to unravel some of my own confusing feelings.
Life is busy, full and real. These are some of the qualities that are missing from The Ten Year Nap. The heavy, all-consuming love we have for our children leads us to make decisions that would have otherwise been unpredictable. Wolitzer’s well-reviewed novel serves as a fascinating sociological study on the consequences of these choices. The author has a keen eye for detail and is an engaging storyteller. However, in my opinion, she does so without the heartfelt emotion necessary to capture this reader’s heart.