What will happen to you when you are no longer able to take care of yourself? When Rae Hoffman’s failing memory becomes a problem no one can overlook any more, she has three daughters to fall back on, Barbara, Rhoda, and Ellen. Each one of them thinks she knows how best to handle their mother’s decline, but Barbara and Ellen each have their own full lives to deal with. When it comes down to placing her into assisted living or bringing her home, Rhoda will have to make a tough decision, to figure out how best to handle her mother’s declining memory and health, her own out-of-control sons, and the complex web of emotions, rivalries, regrets, and love that exist between the three sisters and their mother. As the title suggests, all four women will be forced to reinvent their lives.
Reinvented Lives is an interesting and entertaining portrait of a family trying to come to terms with the decline in health of their mother. One of the truest facets of the story was the sisters’ struggle to find a caretaker for their mother, and in their search their reasons for rejecting responsibility. The rational for handing her off to a sister who objectively had the most outside responsibility because she had a better relationship with their mother might seem strange, but for the characters, it obviously made perfect sense.
Switching back and forth between the four women was an effective way to keep the narrative flowing, but because some of the characters were drawn more skillfully than others, as a reader, I would anticipate their chapters while feeling bored by the others. Some of the other narrative threads, like Ellen’s journey to China, seemed forced and distracted from the main story, such as the women taking care of their mother. While some minor story lines, like the birth of Barbara’s first grandchild, re-enforced themes of family and served as opportunities for character development, others seemed completely unnecessary.
The novel’s dialogue was clear and believable, but the descriptions could be clunky and unnecessary. Likewise the characters’ internal monologues and their thoughts, were sometimes written too properly, cleanly, like they were thinking for an audience. Overall Reinvented Lives is an engaging story that discusses family dynamics and how unsettling it can be when they change. This book should please fans of Eat, Pray, Love.
|Page Count||376 pages|
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