Smart Women, by Judy Blume
He grabbed her roughly, forcing her to face him. “I’ve spent six years paying for what may or may not have benn my fault. I’ll never get over it completely. But I’ve learned to deal with it… with my guilt… with your hate… with losing Bobby… and then you, taking Sara away. Six years is enough.”
“Enough for you,” she said.
“Enough for any of us,” he said softly.
B.B. and Margot are casual friends who have a lot in common. They both escaped to Boulder, Colorado, after their divorces and both have impressionable young daughters. B.B. has Sara, a serious preteen who bears the brunt of her mother’s anger. Michelle, Margot’s daughter, is a 17 year old who is full of anger at her mother and is not afraid to show it. These four share time telling the story.
B.B. is a successful realtor with her head in the sand. She lost her 10 year old son in car accident with her then husband, Andrew, driving. She is incensed that Andrew now wants to move to Boulder to be closer to Sara and she asks Margot to keep an eye on him when he moves next door to her. Margot, who has had a string of boyfriends, meets the sexy Andrew and tries not to fan the flames between them. Andrew for his part has no problem pursuing Margot and it sends B.B. over the edge.
I found the story readable and compelling and I don’t know why. These ‘smart women’ all had problems. B.B. was a cold, unforgivable shrew. Margot cared more about her next boyfriend and sex life than her two kids. Michelle is the awful teen cliche and may have been the only one to show any real growth from beginning to end. And poor Sara bore the brunt of her mother’s verbal abuse and was the only sympathetic character in the whole bunch. But, maybe it was their extreme flaws that made them so recognizable and therefore the story compelling.
At its best it is about what makes a family and the blending that takes place with divorced parents. At its worst it is a shallow soap opera. I’m torn as to which side it falls closer to.