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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Gap Year

The Gap Year
Sarah Bird
Knopf, 2011

Cam Lightsey is a woman with certain expectations, one of which is seeing her daughter Aubrey finally get out of the suburban town they live in and go to an out of state college. Cam originally wanted to move to this town because of the excellent schools, but she has never really fit in with the soccer moms with big SUVs that populate the area. She thought Aubrey wanted to leave too, since she didn’t have very many friends and was not part of the “in” crowd at school. But when Aubrey meets the local football star and falls in love, all bets are off. Instead of studying and making cookies with her mom, Aubrey starts staying out late and lying about her whereabouts, causing Cam to clamp down hard in an attempt to force a solution to the problem. This only makes the situation worse, as any mother could have told Cam. As Aubrey spends more and more time with her boyfriend, she was less inclined to go away to college, but Cam refuses to see this evidence right in front of her own eyes, as she blissfully buys dorm room items and airline tickets. Further complicating the problem, Aubrey has started an online conversation with her long-absent father, who left the family to join a quasi-religious cult without her mother’s knowledge, and Martin starts offering advice that leads Aubrey to make some decisions that lead to a crisis in the family.

I’ve enjoyed several of Sarah Bird’s other novels and this one was no exception. Disguising serious issues with a light-hearted and sometimes humorous tone, Bird alternates voices and chapters so that readers can see how Cam and Aubrey arrive at their perspective points in their relationships – both with each other and with the men in their lives. Mother and daughter relationships are often tumultuous, usually fragile, and never easy. I suspect Bird must have experience raising a teenage daughter, because this study of a complicated and rewarding relationship rings true. Some may be critical of the way the ending wraps up a little too neatly, but I enjoyed the way things came around full circle to a new baby and a new beginning for someone – not necessarily Aubrey – to experience. This book reminded me that the mother/daughter relationship has its ups and downs to be sure, but it can also be the best thing in the world.


Other novels by this author:
The Mommy Club (1991)
Virgin of the Rodeo (1993)
The Yokota Officers Club (2001)
The Flamenco Academy (2006)
How Perfect is That (2008)

Other titles you may enjoy:

Family Sold Separately by Kate Long (2008)
Raised by her eccentric grandmother Poll after the death of her father and disappearance of her mother, Katherine Millar finds her sheltered life forever altered by a package that arrives on the eve of her eighteenth birthday.

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray (2003)
Ruth draws on her talent for concocting delectable cakes and desserts when her family begins to disintegrate around her--her husband loses his job, her mother moves in, and her long-estranged father shows up at the door with no place to go.

Just Trust Me by Judy Markey (2004)
When her ex-husband, whom she has not heard from in fifteen years, offers her financial freedom, with a high price, Chicago radio host Kate Lerner accepts his bizarre proposal and hides the truth from her family.

1 comment:

  1. I saw reviews of this book in two other places and they were both good. With yours that makes 3, so this one is definitely going on my "to read" list!