In her fourth book, Goodnight Nobody, Jennifer Weiner's Kate Klein, frazzled mother of three, turns gumshoe on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings while her three children (one girl and twin boys, eleven months apart) are in nursery school.
Kate and her family are new to the affluent Connecticut suburb of Upchurch. Her husband works all the time. Her three kids are dynamos that wear her out every day. All of the other mommies on the playground look like they've stepped out of the pages of a fashion catalog, while Kate never leaves home wearing anything other than her cargo pants, and Upchurch simply can't compare to New York.
Feeling self-conscious about not quite fitting in with the other mommies at the playground, Kate's intrigued and excited when über-mom Kitty Cavanaugh leaves a telephone message inviting her over, mentioning that they have a mutual acquaintance. Kate can't imagine who she must be speaking of, and is stunned to find Kitty sprawled across the kitchen floor in a pool of blood when she shows up for their lunch date. Even more shocking is that their mutual acquaintance seems to be an old crush of Kate's. What could Evan McKenna have to do with Kitty's murder?
And so it happens that Kate Klein, mother, becomes Kate Klein, private eye. With her former reporter's nose for news and a strong desire to break free of the domestic rut she's in, Kate enlists the assistance of her best friend Janie Segal ("of the carpet Segals") and begins digging, finding that a whole lot more than just dust is getting swept under the rugs in the homes of Upchurch.
Jennifer Weiner recreates perfectly the insecurity that so many women feel when standing next to someone thinner, prettier, or simply more "put together." Readers will readily empathize with Kate, and her slightly cynical outlook that comes from juggling so much—mothering her active preschoolers, trying to be super-homemaker, weathering a very rocky marriage, still working out issues with her own mother, and continuing to adjust to being a stay-at-home mom far from her beloved Manhattan. When overwhelmed with advice on the do's and don'ts of the school bake sale, starting with "no nuts, no dairy," Kate wonders to herself, "How about crack? Would crack be okay?"
What's great about Goodnight Nobody is that it's more than fluff—without lecturing or being heavy-handed, Weiner explores a myriad of issues related to motherhood through Kate: what makes a "good" mother, losing your identity, working versus staying at home, "competing" with other mothers, and the persistent influence of a woman's own mother in her life, even after she's grown and had children of her own.
The resolution to the mystery is a bit wild, but Weiner plants enough hidden clues that it's not impossible either. The true resolution of the book, Kate's search for balance between raising her children and maintaining her sense of self is what makes Goodnight Nobody really worthwhile.
Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
Powell was at a crossroads in her life. An aspiring actress, she hated
working temp job after temp job. Her gynecologist told her that the
time to try and start a family was pretty much now or never. Her marriage
was having its ups and downs. And she and her husband were just about
to move to a small apartment in Long Island City, Queens, with an even
© Melt Magazine 2005