Happily Never After by Jane De Suza is about Tina, a woman in her thirties in Bangalore, raising three children on her own. The story as narrated by Tina, is mainly a collection of her blog posts, where she vents her frustrations.
Tina and her husband Vikram (Vik), find that the trials of parenting have not just killed the romance in their relationship, but also destroyed their ability to communicate effectively. As a result, their interactions are fraught with resentments that threaten to tear them apart.
The metaphorical chasm that separates them, becomes literal when Vik moves to Singapore to join his father’s plumbing business. He rationalizes, that with three young children they could use more money; besides, perhaps, they both need some space to resolve their feelings. Tina wants to protest, but can’t bring herself to voice it, and meekly agrees that some extra money would be welcome.
As expected, the physical separation adds several layers of complications to their already defunct ability to communicate, and feeds their insecurities, until minor misunderstandings get blown out of proportion into major disasters.
To make matters worse, their confused 10 year old daughter makes desperate attempts to repair the widening rift between her parents – by befriending older men in an effort to find her mom a date, and by sending her dad cryptic messages under an assumed identity.
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- The book outlines some realistic problems faced by stay-at-home moms.
- While being surrounded by kids who need them and love them, they can feel very lonely and have a desperate need for adult company.
- Babies do the most bizarre things, and that can be extremely frustrating. But to deal with them one has to remain calm. So the frustrations build up and need an outlet, but often there is no one to vent to.
- It brings up the insecurities stay-at-home moms experience, when they meet old school friends with successful careers.
- The contrast between the perspectives of a mother and her 10 year old daughter, on the same events, as shown in their blog and secret diary, respectively, is quite charming, especially with the misspelt words in the diary entries.
“My mother went to get a tattoo on her bum. She thinks it will make her look young and kewl, but all she needs to look young is to get buttox.”
- There is one very funny situation, where the extended family and friends are all talking at cross purposes.
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- While there are a lot of decent puns, Tina adding a haha, just in case you missed it, was annoying.
- The book feels like an endless list of complaints, and that can get exhausting, and at times boring to read. If the goal was to make you feel Tina’s frustration, then it works, but, personally, I did not like it.
- One would like to sympathize with Tina, given her situation, but she comes across as incompetent. She makes a hash of everything, and then writes about it on her blog with great enthusiasm. I could not figure out how she functions. Although various insurmountable problems are described in great detail, how they get fixed isn’t evident. For example, who did the cooking when the cook refused to do it, because Tina took forever to buy mustard seeds? Does she resolve her son’s habit of stealing? If she did get some things right, they were quickly glossed over. And yet, for some completely unknown reason, a random guy on the internet adores her.While the aim may be to illustrate the problems faced by stay-at-home moms raising multiple kids, it would have been nice if the book had highlighted some of Tina’s virtues.
- Tina uses humour as an evasive manoeuvre to avoid emotional connect with the people in her life as well as her readers. This too makes it difficult to empathize with her. She pushes you away.
. . .
- Reading the book was like reading a blog.
Parenting in the nuclear family of the cyber age.
A copy of this book was given me by Harper Collins India in return for an honest review. Thanks.