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Monday, September 26, 2016

Today Will Be Different: A Novel

You know we all loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette. It was one of those books that was so worth the hype and the praise that I still can't get over it. So at BEA this year, I jumped in line for the book signing of her latest, only to discover that it was a print from the book. Imagine my surprise when, a few months later, this gem landed in my mailbox. I screamed with joy in my apartment lobby, and my boyfriend was terribly confused at my excitement. I had forgotten that the publisher had promised to send galleys when they were ready. This, my friends, is Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different.

Eleanor promises that today will be different. She will be more patient, she will dress up, she will make all of her appointments, and she may even initiate sex with her husband. Today will be the day she has it all together, she swears. That is, until her poetry lesson doesn't go as well as expected, she has to pick up her faking-sick son Timby from school, she steals a fellow mom's keys, her husband has told his office they are all on vacation and are suprised to see her when she stops in, and a ghost of her old life shows up and reminds her of the biggest loss in her life. A raucous good time, no?

Of course I will own up to the fact that I love Maria Semple wholeheartedly and that love runs deep. Bernadette was a lovely, astounding book that I couldn't put down, but Today was so much better. I don't say that lightly – this book entranced me and gripped me in a way that surpassed the incredible nature of Bernadette. This book owned me totally and completely – I only wanted to finish whatever I was doing that to be able to get back to this book.

Semple has a way of telling the most crazy and meandering story in a way that feels entirely realistic and completely plausible. She writes her protagonists as people whose readers can not only relate to but also understand as if she were telling her own story. Life is complicated – it's ridiculous and it's confusing and it's wonderful and it's something that you have to learn to figure out every day. No two days will be the same, but surely, when every day each and every one of us wakes up we hope today will, in fact, be different. The protagonist of the story is no different, one who promises she will be patient and will love her has been more and will dress up, and will be the best. Lo and behold, life doesn't have that planned for her today. Today is different than any other day, and you have to read this book to understand why.

I couldn't put this book down, and if you are to read it for yourself, you will certainly understand why. The pain of not being close to the one family member you hoped that you would always be is difficult to accept but vital to doing in order to make today different. Accepting the day in stride and pushing forward nothing is wrong is a big piece of being human, but Semple takes it to another level. I certainly don't have my own husband to lead me to follow a new path, but I did find myself laughing and entirely entranced with this work. Semple has the ability to insert love in the hardest hearted person to make him or her giggle. Her wit, her timing, and her aplomb is simply to die for, and I can't wait another three years to get my hands on her next book.

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