It’s a struggle to remain the heroes of our own stories. What we know in our hearts, that we are Jason Bourne or Katniss Everdeen, clashes daily with reality, where we coax kids out of the minivan each morning and lug individually bagged, nut-free snacks to a wearying number of Little League games.
But even those of us bogged down in the quotidian have stories. And luckily, we have Tom Perrotta to tell them.
Mrs. Fletcher, the acclaimed author’s first novel since 2011, is a smart, grown-up look at what happens when growing older doesn’t turn out as expected.
Eve Fletcher is alone. Forty-six, abandoned by her husband for a younger woman and left with an empty nest by her college-bound son, Brendan (whom she dearly loves but finds hard to like), Eve fears the days ahead. Her only consolations are small but not insignificant: She doesn’t hate her job and she still looks good in jeans.
Eve is, in fact, a MILF (if you don’t know the term, go stream American Pie). She knows this because a late-night text from an unknown number informs her, “U R my MILF!” The text sends Eve on a journey of discovery, both amusing and so cringe-worthy that you’ll want to read with your fingers covering your face.
Eve’s struggles are matched by those of her son. Brendan is a “bro,” a frat-hungry jock who is unable to rein in his sense of entitlement, even in the progressive world of college. When he’s called out for the boorish, misogynistic behavior that worked like a charm in high school, he is forced to confront the type of person he wants to be.
Perrotta makes a sharp, satirical return to the class of people he skewered in Little Children (2004). A suburban anthropologist in the tradition of John Updike, he is so spot on about people who live “comfortably” that reading him makes you deliciously uncomfortable.