by Meg Waite Clayton
This is the book I've been wanting to tell you about for the past two weeks! I might start by simply saying it is lovely. As a writer, I found myself inspired. But the book turned out to be just a little bit more than I was expecting.
The book is about a group of young mothers who begin meeting in a park every Wednesday while their children play. They begin writing together. It starts as an exercise, but becomes an important part of each of their lives as each of them begins using the written word to fill images of themselves, make a mark on the world, or as a tool for understanding themselves and their own histories. Set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the characters are a way of viewing the changes that were taking place for women in the world, in general.
The narrator, Frankie, tells the story of these women from a looking-back point of view. It's not so much an explanation for the attitudes and the way times were changing for women in general, but an acknowledgement of the way things were. Where and when these these friends came from, people of different races didn't marry, women didn't participate in athletic events, and girls got married and had children rather than pursuing careers. Yet, women were doing all of these things and the book is about women, young mothers, in the midst of all this change of attitude and expectation.
It's a happy book. Very upbeat, even though the element of the woman dealing with breast cancer was very difficult for me and left me feeling pretty emotional in a few places. The way women with cancer are treated, however, is yet another sign of how far we've come and how fast. For the first time, I found myself feeling my mother was probably fortunate to have had her mastectomy in 1977. I know I always had a sense that the choices she was making and the amount of control she had over her own treatment plan was something fairly new, and the book confirmed that feeling.
Most of all, as I made my way through the book, I found my own desires to write a novel flaring high again. Unfortunately (or fortunately -- depending on if you are a glass is half full or half empty person, I guess), the demand for my fingers at the keyboard is quite high these days. I've barely had a moment free from writing... so that I can begin writing!!!
It probably didn't hurt that Meg Clayton stopped in at my blog and left a comment WHILE I was reading the book. (Thanks, Samantha!) That's how I know I can flag her here as a Kansas author. She may not think of herself that way, but since she lived here until she was seven, I'm going to claim her.
In short, if you are a writer or if you are at all interested in women's history, you are probably going to enjoy this book. This one goes on my recommended list, and I will be looking forward to more of Meg's work (old and new) to review in the future.