Title: The Uncoupling
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Synopsis (Courtesy of IndieBound):
“When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play Lysistrata-the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war-a strange spell seems to be cast over the school. Or, at least, over the women. One by one throughout the high school community, perfectly healthy, normal women and teenage girls turn away from their husbands and boyfriends in the bedroom, for reasons they don’t really understand. As the women worry over their loss of passion, and the men become by turns unhappy, offended, and above all, confused, both sides are forced to look at their shared history, and at their sexual selves in a new light.”
Thoughts: There is one school of thought that sex is only a minor part of any relationship. In Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling, sex is not a minor part but rather a major role in all relationships. When it is removed from the relationship, it changes the dynamics of each relationship in fundamental ways. It is a unique premise, one the raises eyebrows and requires taking a moment to reevaluate just how important passion is to a relationship.
The Uncoupling tackles some very tricky topics but does so with delicacy. However, it does require the reader to pause periodically and absorb what was just read. This is never a bad thing in a novel because it prevents one from reading too quickly and glossing over some of the lessons to be learned. In this case, the lessons are all about taking a loved one for granted, for not recognizing the other’s worth, and in the case of new love, making sure safe decisions are made. For a novel that comes across as whimsical on the surface, it has a hidden depth to it that is surprising yet welcome.
The writing is what makes this novel special. Ms. Wolitzer weaves the story just as spell weaves around the women of Stellar Plains. Her words are simple but extremely effective as she creates a story not of one particular couple but rather more an expose in the form of a narrative on the importance of intimacy. With an entire town as its cast of character, Wolitzer does an amazing job of keeping each character separate and memorable, so that the reader has no problem distinguishing between them all. This is essential, as it could easily become overwhelming for the reader. Instead, it makes for a great blend of characters that covers every make and model, allowing the reader to see him/herself in any one of the cast.
The Uncoupling is quickly generating buzz in the blogging world for all the right reasons. It is a quirky novel that is lighthearted and yet serious in its subject matter. The writing is beautiful in its simplicity, and the cast of characters are memorable but generic enough to be realistic while allowing the reader to be empathetic. More importantly, it requires the reader to reevaluate his or her own relationships. This is going to be a novel that you will be seeing around a lot, as other readers discover it. Any accolades are definitely deserved.