Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not impact my rating or review.
Huge sigh. This book was a mess. At first I was momentarily intrigued because the book seemed to be setting up things with the husband in this story (Sam) to be sinister. All of his rules for mothers/wives seemed to be playing that way. But then you get further into the book, and when Merry's "best friend" Frank comes to visit, the book just goes freaking dark. I just needed something to break up this mess. There was nothing redeeming about a single character. You don't even get a semblance of characters getting their just desserts. Instead you know that it seems that the cycle will continue again in maybe 10 or 20 years. This book gets one star for taking place in Sweden. That's about it.
"You Were Made for This" is about a husband and wife (Sam and Merry) who move to Sweden to live in a house that is left to Sam. There are some allusions to something happening that caused the family to move. But you never get the full details. Just other characters blurting out things later on dozens of pages later.
Sam is happy in Sweden, but struggling to make ends meet. He used to be a professor at a university in New York. And now is trying to be a filmmaker.
Merry used to be a set decorator (that sounded cool and wish we had gotten more details about) but is now a full time mother to her son Conor. Merry is not feeling seen anymore as a stay at home mother. Instead she is trying to follow the rules for motherhood that Sam seems to think she needs to do (which includes making homemade baby food and scrubbing the whole house with organic ingredients). Merry I was initially sympathetic to, but Sacks blows that away pretty quickly when you find out about the darkness in Merry. Merry is dreading, but also wants her best friend Frances (known as Frank) to come visit.
Frank and Merry have a toxic friendship. There is no other word for it. I just could not with Frank once you saw everything she had done in the past, and what she currently did in this book. Her talking about being the only one to "see" Merry was just head shaking to me.
Merry wants to show off for Frank to show her "that she's won" and Frank is not worth as much since she's not married and has no children. That could have been an interesting dynamic with two women who chose two different paths. Heck even show the dark side of motherhood and talk about post par-tum depression. Instead we don't get that at all.
Sam is obviously awful, you don't really get why Merry wants to be with him. You do get why he wants to be with her though. He has someone to mold into whatever he wants. There are some hints there that something dark happened to Sam. Once again though, you don't know since the author doesn't like to spell things out. I for one got really tired of people talking past things.
The secondary characters that we get (there are barely any) don't figure into this book at all really. We have Merry and Sam's closest neighbors who are there merely to move the plot along.
I really didn't like the writing. The multiple POVs with Merry, Sam, and Frank didn't help. They all started to sound the same after a while (psychopaths with the need for instant gratification). And the book started to feel endless after a while along with being repetitive.
The setting of Sweden was the only reason why I gave this book a star. I was intrigued about the location, the mention of the lakes, the ability to be truly alone if you want to be in the place that Merry and Sam lived.
The ending was a mess. I think that Sacks should have changed the ending. It felt like such a waste to me to have to wade through this book for no reason in my opinion. I think she was going for a Gone Girl twist, but it didn't work. I just sighed really loudly at this point because you are given enough context clues that it seems the cycle would just continue for all parties.