Review: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

 

What it’s about:

Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the

day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

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Review:

Today Will Be Different has just the right balance of sarcasm, denial and self-awareness. Maria Semple’s second novel is again set in Seattle, Washington. The main characters of both novels have the same tone, but there are no other similarities.

The characters in Today Will Be Different are complex but not wholly likable. They are intriguing vessels to relay good messages. Eleanor is blind to her own faults but quick to point out other’s weaknesses. Her much maligned husband and family are present only in her flashbacks and musings, so readers get a biased view of them until the zenith of the story. Eleanor’s eventual epiphany reveals some hard truths that made me think of my own middle-aged hard truths. Ms. Semple creates compassion for her characters by making them flawed in seemingly universal aspects.

The book and Eleanor’s day begins with her chanting a mantra about how her day will be different. As she proceeds with the mantra, my anticipation that she would fail miserably grew. I loved the mantra and its call for positive change. That mantra creates so many possibilities in the story set up, and it gives great insight into the main character and narrator. Eleanor’s day does turn out to be incredibly different, and it leads to great introspection as well as some zany chases and bizarre scenes.

 “Everything I’d set out to achieve in this lifetime, I’d done, with grace to spare. Except loving well the people I loved most”

Ms. Semple depicts marriage, family, and mid-life crises with witty humor and tenderness. Today Will Be Different is an entertaining and altogether relatable story. Whom amongst us is able to say our life turned out perfect and exactly as planned and that we are the faultless paragons of virtue we believe ourselves to be? The heavy hitting messages about family, marriage and turning a new leaf are balanced by the snarky humor and peculiar coincidences.

Interesting story layout, quirky yet relatable characters, and an unexpected twist make Today Will Be Different a highly enjoyable and humorous book.

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