My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Accidents of Marriage: A Novel is a rare treat – a novel about real people struggling to get through their flawed lives.
Randy Susan Meyers skillfully tells the story from three different points of view so we see events from Maddy, Ben, and their daughter, Emma’s perspective. In the first section of the novel, we get to know Maddy as a harried mom trying to do a good job for her social work clients, be a good daughter, take care of her children, and keep her volatile husband happy – all with a little help from her stash of pills. We also meet Ben who has a hair-trigger temper. He seems to resent everything and everyone in his life, especially Maddy. One rainy night, Ben lets his anger do the driving and Maddy ends up in the hospital with a head injury. I don’t want to give the rest of the book away, but suffice to say, things don’t get better for Maddy and Ben for a while.
One of the things I liked about Accidents of Marriage, and there were many things to like, was how Maddy and Ben’s marriage was far from perfect before the car accident and how the trauma of the accident forced Maddy to re-evaluate her life. These are real people that make terrible decisions and have to deal with them the best they can.
Another thing I liked about the character of Maddy was although she is recovering from a serious brain injury, she never loses her personality. She still has a wicked sense of humor. She still fiercely loves her children. She still wants to be independent. Meyers’ depiction of the frustration an adult who has become ill experiences, is spot on. Maddy needed her mother and father to help her take care of her home and family, but she still found them intrusive and annoying. One of her main goals in her recovery was to simply make dinner for her children by herself. The simple every day chores became moments of triumph.
In the second two thirds of the book, we also see the family drama through the eyes of Emma. At 14, she is thrust into the role of caretaker for her siblings. She is understandably resentful and anxious. Meyers deftly shows a young woman who is capable of acting like an adult but still needs her mom to take care of her. The chapters from Emma’s point-of-view were some of the most heart wrenching pages to read.
Lastly, I loved the ending. We are left not knowing exactly what is going to happen to Maddy and Ben. I think Maddy was going to be all right. I am sure she knew where she wanted to go in life. I am not sure exactly what that would look like and I am grateful to Randy Susan Meyers for that.
Accidents of Marriage: A Novel is available today.