How Stella Got Her Groove Back
There are many ways to lose your groove… and many ways to get it back. But forty-two-year-old divorced mother Stella found one of the best—falling in love with a kind, sexy man half her age on a last-minute trip to Jamaica. But Stella’s groove isn’t just about romance, it’s in asking questions about how she has lived her life so far, and answering more about how she wants to live it going forward.
Tracy Flick is that overachieving, over bubbly, so-positive-it’s-kind-of-intense student we all knew in high school. And she’s running for class President, which she’s definitely going to win (as Tracy always does). But Mr. M, the faculty advisor to the student government, has a chip on his shoulder about it. So he recruits the opposition candidate in this dark comedy about the meaningless metrics of suburban ambition and those who take it seriously.
Generation X got a lot of flak for their nihilistic worldview, but with the economic downturn, the AIDs crisis and skyrocketing divorce rates of the ’80s and early ’90s, they were also handed a pretty nihilistic world. Wurtzel shows us the existential dread of her generation in this memoir about addiction, depression, suicidal ideation and all the self-centered thoughts most of us wouldn’t want anyone to know we have.
The problem with the speculation about how anyone could get mixed up with a man like Charles Manson, is that no one ever got the girls’ perspective. Emma Cline tries to do just that in this novel about a normal teen in 1960s California, who gets mixed up with a Manson family-like cult. Looking for freedom and community, Evie just wants to be accepted by some older, cooler girls—unaware of how quickly that can go wrong.
Little Fires Everywhere
Non-conformity and conformity go to war in the suburbs when artist, single-mother and rule breaker Mia Warren rents a house from suburban mom archetype Elena Richardson. When a family in the community tries to adopt a Chinese-American boy and a custody battle breaks loose, Mia and Elena take sides, causing a rift between the two women that has the potential to shatter families.
Patti Smith weaves art and artistry into stories about where she’s lived, who she’s loved and the many losses she’s endured in this non-linear experiment. Jumping around from the Greenwich village coffee shop she haunts, to Frida Kahlo’s Mexico home, to the life she lived in Michigan with her now-deceased husband, Smith says “it’s not easy writing about nothing,” which perfectly captures the sacred and the mundane in every life.
Fear of Flying
Isadora Wong’s not exactly feeling married after only five years with her cold, unsupportive husband. So when she accompanies him on a business trip to Vienna, she starts fantasizing about sleeping with other men. This book is about those fantasies, offering feminist insight not so much with fist-pumping, as with revelations about how women’s inner lives often don’t match the outer lives they project.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
If you’ve been dreaming about quitting your life and going on the wildest road trip of your dreams, but you can’t actually quit your life, then this book is for you. Small town girl, Sissy Hankshaw, hitchhikes from Virginia to Manhattan to the Dakota Badlands, crossing paths with the cowgirls of the Rubber Rose Ranch in this book of Americana meets magical realism.
The Woman Destroyed
Simone De Beauvoir
She’s a master of existential crises, especially women’s existential crises. De Beauvoir centers on ending careers, fracturing relationships, death, abandonment, and some of the rarely-named disappointments of motherhood in this compilation of three short stories about aging women in France, all with the air of sitting at a French sidewalk café, drinking espresso and smoking cigarettes with friends.
Oh Rob, if you could just admit how much Laura meant to you and feel the break-up feelings, we wouldn’t have to go through this. But instead, you pretend like her leaving you means freedom. But it catches up to you in the end, as you go through your list of exes for answers and just wind up back at how much you loved Laura and all that you didn’t do to keep her.
First, they were nihilistic teens, then judgy young adults. Next, they were new parents who were definitely going to do it better than their own parents. And now, gasp, they’re empty-nesters? That’s right, Gen X is beyond grown up. They’re sending their kids off to college. So if you ever wondered what you’d get if you mixed Reality Bites with June Cleaver after a divorce, Tom Perotta and HBO have you covered. Mrs. Fletcher is the perfect Gen X post-parenting anthem about how to bring grumpy-sexy back after forty. And we’ve got ten more books like Mrs. Fletcher that hit that same sweet spot.
Featured image: Kathryn Hahn in Mrs. Fletcher (2019)