Review: Today Will Be Different

“But then you stop nursing and the terrible truth descends: Your good brain is never coming back. You’ve traded vocabulary, lucidity, and memory for motherhood. You know how you’re in the middle of a sentence and you realize at the end you’re going to need to call up a certain word and you’re worried you won’t be able to, but you’re already committed so you hurtle along and then pause because you’ve arrived at the end but the word hasn’t? And it’s not even a ten-dollar word you’re after, like polemic or shibboleth, but a two-dollar word, like distinctive, so you just end up saying amazing?

Which is how you join the gang of nitwits who describe everything as amazing.”  ~ Maria Semple

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
258 pages
Published by Back Bay Books, 2016
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Indiana
Re-readability: I might come back to this one.
Spoiler-free review

Maria Semple’s humor shines through in Today Will Be Different. Similar to Where’d You Go Bernadette, it’s centered around a quirky middle-aged woman whose life feels like a mess. Eleanor Flood has been avoiding her deadline for her graphic memoir for several years, she’s stopped working at her relationship with her husband or her child and it’s been a long time since she wore clothes that would be considered fashionable in any sense of that term.

One day, Eleanor wakes up and decides that she’s going to change things. She’s going to be a better wife, mom, writer, woman, etc.

Things go awry when her son decides to pretend he’s sick in order to spend more time with her, and she finds out that her husband has told his receptionist that he’s on vacation (which he didn’t tell her). She also runs into a former colleague who dredges up her personal and professional past.

Through a series of wacky twists and turns, where the reader questions the sanity of the protagonist, Eleanor delves deep into problems with her family and with her husband to get at the heart of her “mess.”

I found this novel both heartwarming and hilarious. The only thing I found heavy-handed was how she dealt with religion. When the author talked about how Eleanor and her husband were both anti-religion at the start of the book, my first reaction was “Got it. Moving on.” Then she kept bringing it up throughout the book and by the end when there’s supposed to be a big reveal regarding religion, it didn’t feel very big; just odd.

Overall, it’s a charming book that I may return to in the future, when I need a laugh or to feel a kinship with someone else whose life is a mess.

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