Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff

Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Wishful Thinking.  We received a copy of Kamy Wicoff's book for an honest review.

About the book:

Jennifer Sharpe is a divorced mother of two with a problem just about any working parent can relate to: her boss expects her to work as though she doesn’t have children, and her children want her to care for them as though she doesn’t have a boss. But when, through a fateful coincidence, a brilliant physicist comes into possession of Jennifer’s phone and decides to play fairy godmother, installing a miraculous time-travel app called Wishful Thinking, Jennifer suddenly finds herself in possession of what seems like the answer to the impossible dream of having it all: an app that lets her be in more than one place at the same time. With the app, Jennifer goes quickly from zero to hero in every part of her life: she is super-worker, the last to leave her office every night; she is super-mom, the first to arrive at pickup every afternoon; and she even becomes super-girlfriend, dating a musician who thinks she has unlimited childcare and a flexible job. But Jennifer soon finds herself facing questions that adding more hours to her day can’t answer. Why does she feel busier and more harried than ever? Is she aging faster than everyone around her? How can she be a good worker, mother, and partner when she can’t be honest with anybody in her life? And most important, when choosing to be with your children, at work, or with your partner doesn’t involve sacrifice, do those choices lose their meaning? Wishful Thinking is a modern-day fairy tale in which one woman learns to overcome the challenges—and appreciate the joys—of living life in real time.
This book was super funny and had a similar message as The Balance Project. This book is very different as far as the story is concerned, but they both discuss the "women having it all" myth.  The main character, Jennifer, is a single mom of two boys.  She has not had a lot of support from her ex-husband, Norman, in the past.  She has a very fulfilling job, but has a new boss that wants the employees to work 60-80 hours a week.  By chance, Jennifer's physicist neighbor installs and app on Jennifer's phone that allows her to be in more than one place at the same time.  At first Jennifer is reluctant to use the app.  However she starts using it more and more to spend time with her kids while meeting the demands of her boss.  All this extra time starts to take a toll on Jennifer.  She is more tired since she is doing more in her days and she realizes she isn't doing everything she would like to do.  She also tries to keep groups of people separate from each other so they won't discuss how she is picking up her kids after school, but somehow manages to be at work until 8.  At the same time, Jennifer is learning that all moms find it hard to juggle quality time with their kids and working while not feeling exhausted.  She (unknowingly) is making a coworker feel bad about not staying as late as Jennifer does.  

All the secrets (she is hiding the use from everyone and hiding things from her best friend) and time start to wear on Jennifer.  Her Norman finds someone else and tries to tell Jennifer that she needs to find someone to be happy with.  At first Jennifer thinks her life should revolve around her kids and work, but eventually she meets Owen.  Once Owen and her start getting close, she splits herself into threes to make for him.  She's exhausted and starts feeling present in multiple places at once.  When something at sketchy at work happens that she is suspected of and when she can sense danger for her kids, Jennifer has to decide whether to interfere with the future or just let things happen naturally without the app.

I thought the premise of this book was very intriguing.  Without giving specifics of the app away, I thought it was very neat that the app had certain rules and that there were lessons from the person that created the app.  As a reader there was some background involved instead of being expected to take the app at face value without any questions involved.  In a way all of this made it seem possible.  Her best friend thinks she's having a panic attack when she first tells her about the app.  I thought this book raised some very interesting points.  When she falls asleep at a meeting after using the app for some time, she realizes that other mothers are exhausted and that she isn't alone.  A line from the book really stood out to me.  (I'm paraphrasing) Near the end of the book Jennifer wonders if you have all the time in the world to do anything is there really meaning to the things you do.  Since we do have such limited time and there are no guarantees it speaks volumes when you do make time for people or activities.  There are some many other things we could or want to be doing.  Even when Jennifer has extra time to clean or see her kids she thinks she still does not have enough hours in the day to do EVERYTHING she wants.  One last point that I think is important is that when things start getting serious with Owen she is scared.  She wants a guarantee that things will work out and that the relationship won't end up like the one with Norman.  That is not possible (obviously).  However, Jennifer has to learn to take a leap of faith and trust not only Owen but other people in her life to do things that she thinks she is the only person capable of doing.  Sure it would be nice to avoid heartache or bad situations, but sometimes those lead to the best things or make you even more grateful for the good things you do have in life.  

Overall, I thought this book was great.  It was so funny and I loved the snark from Jennifer.  She is trying to make things good for her sons, but sometimes she doesn't think about her own happiness.  The emails between her and her best friend are some of the best lines in the book.  I loved those.  I also enjoyed the minor characters in this book, particularly Dr. Sexton.  She was like a kid herself.  You will get a kick out of the book and maybe wonder what you would do with all the extra time if you had an app like Jennifer.  Would you do it if it potentially made you age faster and more tired than you already were?  That's something to think about.  

PS In the acknowledgements I loved that the author may have potentially found her own real life Owen! :)

Buy the book:
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books

About the author:

Kamy Wicoff is the author of Wishful Thinking, a novel about a divorced mother of two boys (as a divorced mother of two boys, she didn't have to reach hard for that one) who gets an app on her phone that lets her be in two places at the same time. (She could have used the app to help her finish the book faster.) She is also the bestselling author of the nonfiction book I Do But I Don't: Why The Way We Marry Matters, and founder of one of the world's largest communities for women writers, www.shewrites.com. She is also founder, with Brooke Warner, of She Writes Press. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit www.kamywicoff.com.

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