Underwhelming 04/22/2011
 
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The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
2011
general fiction
288 pages

I have written and deleted about five times now in my futile attempts to write a review for this book. I read The Position by the author when it first came out and enjoyed its unique spin on family drama; however, this particular book left something to be desired.

At Elro (Eleanor Roosevelt High School), a run-of-the-mill suburban high school in New Jersey, a new drama teacher arrives to direct the school's play for the year: Lysistrata. In this play by Aristophanes the women of Greece withhold sex from the men as a way to end war, and the women of Stellar Plains begin to experience a similar effect, not only losing interest in their men, but becoming repulsed and disgusted by the thought of intimacy with their men.

On a positive note, I thought Wolitzer's descriptions of suburban U.S.A were spot-on and candid along with her take on the high school atmosphere in Stellar Plains. As a teacher and resident of a town that could be a neighboring city to Stellar Plains, I related to many of her details...The Cumfy (a take on the Snuggie), Farrest (a virtual world in which avatars replace face-to-face communication), life in the teachers' lounge - great takes on life in 2011. I loved this. She does a wonderful job with the little details. Many readers complained about her characterization, but I found everyone's role in the book to be perfect, especially that of the Langs, the beloved English teachers whose marriage begins to dissolve into monotony and bitterness.

On a negative note, the entire premise just did NOT work for me. I ignored all of the reviews and ratings on goodreads to just page-turn, form my own opinions, and look forward to seeing what other readers had to say upon concluding the novel. The idea of women losing interest in sexual relations and intimacy with a man was a good suburban topic, and its tie-in to the school production of Lysistrata imaginative (although I don't really know many high schools that would allow its performance), BUT the description of the "spell" that weaves its way through the town was really off-putting because it was a jarring shake of the magical in a book that contained nothing else of this nature. Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of magical realism, it's just that there was NOTHING else magical going on so it seemed entirely out of place.

I wavered between a 2 and a 4 star rating, to 3 seemed to be the way to go.

If you've been curious, I won't deter you from checking this one out, BUT there are much better books out right now I would recommend over this one.

 


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