Friday, September 12, 2014
Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers
3.0 out of 5 stars - "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."
Maddie, married to Ben, is a social worker with 3 children. She has endured and cowered from Ben's temper and anger issues for years. One day his rage erupts while they are together in a car -- Ben is driving -- and his careless recklessness results with Maddie in the ICU brain injured and in a coma. The family rallies around in confusion and fear. Eventually Maddie returns home, but she's forever damaged.
I attended a Book Trib webchat with the author before I read the book and I'm sorry to admit that I really didn't like this book as much as I had looked forward to reading it, especially seeing all the superlatives used in other reviews that gave it 5 stars. I wanted to feel empathy for Maddie and for the children, hoped to see developing awareness and change in Ben, and waited for an ending that would make me believe that this novel would be more than a "why she stayed...why she left" Lifetime movie-like drama. I tried, in vain, to like and care about the characters and what happened to them. I never reached that point. Maddie is portrayed as a long-suffering saint, the teenaged daughter, Emma, is of course a mess, the other two siblings have issues that were exacerbated, the in-laws and out-laws were stereotypical in their responses, and Ben -- oh Ben -- the narcissistic bad guy who needed anger management therapy and a reality check. With so much in the news about abusive relationships gone wrong, we're aware that all parties need serious help. Where was the family therapy aspect in this book -- no one was getting counseling except for Maddie and her "adjustment" appointments. I don't know why this novel didn't resonate with me and I kept going back to various points in the story to reread them, trying to make myself feel what I expected, what other readers must have felt -- to look at Ben and say he's totally someone to get away from, that Maddie was justified. I hate the notion of any kind of abuse in a relationship. I guess I'm just frustrated that Maddie tolerated Ben's behavior, took pills to soothe and numb herself, subjected her children to that household, denied the extent of the problem for so long...and then the accident. Probably because I've known far too many women in relationships like this who KNEW beforehand what the man was capable of, had experienced recognition that this man had issues. Forgave him time and again. No, love is not and never will be enough to overcome and promises and pleas for forgiveness can't mend what's broken in the cycle of domestic violence. Maybe I just wanted a happy ending even as I realize that the conclusion here is more true to life.
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the e-book ARC to review.