Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Someday Daughter, by Ellen O'Clover

Seven years before she was born, Audrey was already famous.  Her mother made her career from the blockbuster self-help book Letters to My Someday Daughter and so, once Audrey was born, everyone wanted to know what it was like to be the "someday daughter."

It sucks.  As a result of being constantly in the spotlight of nosy suburban mothers, every major event in Audrey's life became a media event.  Audrey, herself, is simply a prop for her Mom to bring out and talk about.  And like so many therapists, Audrey's Mom is particularly dreadful at caring for others in her private life.  Audrey is alternatingly humiliated and ignored.

Audrey nonetheless has been a success.  She is going to Johns Hopkins pre-med in the fall and the summer is supposed to be spent in an intensive program at Penn to get ready for her high-flying career plans.  But Audrey's Mom hijacks the plan, cancelling the Penn study so that Audrey can spend the summer with her instead, crossing the country for an anniversary book tour -- mother and someday daughter.  Audrey is livid but caves in (as she so often has done in the past) and goes on the trip.  To her immense surprise, the trip changes her life so that, by the end, she no longer sees either her mother or the future in the same way.

A brisk and engrossing read.  Good writing, a compelling cast of characters (the mother-daughter dynamic is spot-on and an emotional road accident you can't stop gawking at), and a briskly-paced story kept me flipping pages.  Only towards the end did it begin to drag for me, but some of that has to do with a brutal surprise plot twist that resets much of the story (although is surprisingly effective).  The romantic triangle is a bit limp, so don't hold out high expectations there, but I didn't care as long as there was Mommy Dearest to keep things burning along.

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