The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Negative 22

Funny enough, I really thought that I wouldn’t spend time writing a review about Wife 22 (D) by Melanie Gideon because I felt like I already had spent too much valuable time trying to read the book.  I have a problem with contemporary fiction. There are many reasons why I feel so strongly and they are why I decided to pen this review.

Wife 22 is about Alice Buckle a woman in crisis.  She is living her 45th year in dread and depression.  She lost her Mom when her Mom was 45 and so she is fearful of living to be older than her.  Now, this made a bit of sense to me because I experienced some odd feelings the year that I moved past the age my mother was when she died.  There is something to be said about living longer than your parent.  It makes you aware of how young they were when their life ended and how many things they still wanted to do.

Alice lives in the electronic age and much of her day is spent corresponding with people through email, text messages and social media.  Through email, she receives an invitation to participate in a marriage survey composed of questions that she will receive in batches.  She has been assigned a number (Wife #22) that will keep her anonymous, as well as a Researcher, (#101) who will read and decipher her questions.  The questions and the discussions that follow lead her to put her life, her marriage, children and friends under a microscope.

My issue isn’t with the story, albeit ordinary and predictable, but rather with the way it is written.  I do not consider the text of emails and instant messages literature. Is this the type of “contemporary” nonsense that is going to become the legacy of our time?  Is this what we want future generations to read?  Is Gideon and those like her going to be considered our Brontes and Austens?  Heaven help us. I do not want this to be our generation’s legacy. I think we deserve better and should expect better too.  I spend a good part of my day communicating via the Internet.  It is often necessary, convenient and enjoyable too.  But then there is the time in my day when I pick up a book to feed my brain and my soul.  I need a healthy diet not sloppy fast food.

If you feel as I do, pass on Wife 22, instead reread Jane Eyre.  I read another review of this novel and it touted it as a “beach read”. I say take it to the beach and leave it there.  Maybe the seagulls will enjoy it.


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