Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reproduction is the Flaw of Love by Lauren Grodstein

For there was that law of life, so cruel and so just, which demanded that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.
Norman Mailer (The Deer Park, 1955)
Reproduction is the Flaw of Love is an engaging first novel by Lauren Grodstein. It explores the responsibilities of parenthood while portraying the limits of love.

Joel Miller is twenty-eight and living with his girlfriend, Lisa, in Brooklyn. They have been together for two years. Lisa is holed up in their bathroom waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. She is stalling for hours and unable to face the truth. Meanwhile, Joel is waiting for Lisa to emerge. While he is doing so, he reflects on his past.

On the surface, this seems like a simple plot. As the story unfolds, we realize that Joel's fear of commitment is shaped by his relationship with his mother and the marriage of his parents in general. He is a good son and feels responsible for his mother's well-being. His father is an average guy who once aspired to success but is now middle-aged, over-weight and plainly irresponsible about his own well-being.

The characters in this book are all sympathetically drawn. There are no heroes and no villains. This is a tale of what it is like to be in one's twenties, governed by passion and possessing little insight into oneself. Ultimately, it is about the decisions we make before and after self-awareness.

Lauren Grodstein explores what it means to be in one's twenties with precision and empathy. This book is also appropriate for high school and college-age girls who are just beginning to learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

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