This book was a 2 star, middle of the road, didn't hate it, didn't love it, it was OK kinda read until the last 40 pages or so. At 40 pages from the end, I stopped reading, stared at the book, and asked it: "Are you fucking kidding?!!" It didn't answer, probably because I'd shamed it into silence, but the answer is no, it was not fucking kidding.
Lemme back up a bit and work up to my vocal incredulity. This book was selected as the November book in my real life bookclub. And so I read it. I was assured that the author is "hilarious" and "smart" and that I would "probably love this book".
Huh. Not so much.
I'm gonna talk about what led me to stare down and then yell at this book now, so if you have intentions of reading this book, or just don't want me to ruin it for you, stop reading right about.... Now.
Let the rant commence.
OK, so, we start this book with Charlotte grieving, unable to get out of bed or deal with her day without a plan. Through her memories, we see her daily morning interaction with her absent husband, Matthew - how she's a horrible morning person, how he would tease her that her right side is still sleeping and tell her left side not to wake her, etc. So cute, sweet, loving... *HURK*. Oh, 'scuse me. I just ate. Anyway, so, we add together Grief + Missing Adorable Husband, and we end up with the assumption that he's dead. Turn that in to the professor and we get a big red FAIL for faulty logic. He's not dead... he's just estranged.
And Charlotte is a fucking wreck.
Alrighty... I don't know how long they were together before they got married, but from the bits and pieces of their courtship, where Mattypoo is impossibly adorable in spite of (if not because of) his OCD, which necessitated Charlotte learning his mannerisms and body language, meaning that she is The Only One Who Gets Him, I really did not get the impression that it was very long. Maybe a year? Then they were married for 5 months, when seemingly out of the blue, Mattypoo says he's moving out. Which he does, until a month later when he changes his mind and comes back home. Which sends Charlotte into a mental crisis tailspin of worry and doubt and what-the-fuckery where she ends up masturbating on the cold bathroom floor in the middle of the night, before skeeving herself out and then scrubbing said floor at 3am.
Charlotte: OMG! My beloved husband left me! This is terrible... I'm sad.
Charlotte: He's back! Wait. Why? Why is he back? Did he sleep with someone and now he feels guilty? Did that someone (who is, of course, blonde and beautiful, and utterly uninhibited) do things that I would never let him do, so now that oat is sowed (sown?) and he can come back? Does he love me? I love him. I don't know if he loves me. But he came back. But he left. He loves me though... he came back. But he doesn't.
(At this point, I was like "DID YOU TRY FUCKING ASKING HIM WHY HE LEFT?! *slap slap*)
Charlotte, cont'd: He loves/doesn't love me. Everything is falling apart. If I don't have him I don't exist... but he doesn't want me... or maybe he just doesn't want to be alone. Or maybe blah blah blah blah [edited for brevity]... *Complete breakdown/bathroom scene*
And that is how, after being unable to cope with her husband deciding to leave OR stay, SHE decides to leave HIM... apparently in order to save her marriage. Or... something.
'Or something' because she somehow thinks that makes sense... She makes absolutely ZERO effort to discuss anything with him, aside from inviting him to her family functions, because she insists on pretending as though there's nothing wrong at all to her family, while at the same time acting as though the sun just fell out of the sky to her friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and casual passersby, whom she expects to behave the same way.
She could make a silent indy film called THE PERPETUAL DARKNESS OF A MATTHEWLESS WORLD. In miniature. Cannes would love it. (Remember the miniature part. This will be important later.)
Seriously, her behavior at this point in the story (pre-incredulosity, remember) is so out of proportion to the situation that I was hoping something really awful would happen to her just for some perspective. (It didn't.)
So anyway, then she makes a new friend, who introduces her to roller derby, which performs the oh-so-painful-but-necessary role of distracting her from her miserable, fucked up life, while at the same time teaching her confidence, and, umm confidence, and... conf-Zzzzzzzz...
But not really. Because she's still clinically UN-FUCKING-ABLE to make a goddamn decision about what she wants to do with her life. Or even cope with being a human. There was the part where a male friend is going through a mini-crisis of his own, and she hugs him, during which he kisses her on the cheek/corner of her mouth, and she freaks the hell out. Going into a panic attack/crying fit because a "man has touched her" and she can't cope with that. As if she'd been raped or assaulted or something, rather than just having her husband leave her and then come back. How traumatizing!!
Have I mentioned she's 30? She's MY AGE. And I am a Libra, and as such, I am technically allowed to be indecisive. But for shit's sake, I don't think that a break up with a boy EVER incapacitated me to this level of stagnation... not even when I was in full on BOYS ARE THE UNIVERSE mode at 15. I don't even think that I'd get that way now if The Boy and I were to split, and we've been together 24 times the length of Charlotte's pathetic ass Kardashian marriage.
But I digress.
Friend > roller derby > other shit which is too pointless to mention > leads to a Much Needed Girls' Getaway Vacation. (Brace yourself, the incredularity is coming soon.)
During the MNGGV, Friend asks Charlotte, "What did he do to you?" And this is where Charlotte breaks her long silence and tells Friend what led to Mattypoo leaving in the first place. (Ready?)
She is a miniature artist. By which I mean to say that she makes small things and displays them as art. Shortly after the wedding, she did a show, wherein a gallery owner got all flirty with Charlotte and Mattypoo got jealous. Mattypoo's not real good with his words (despite being a LAWYER!!) and so he tells her to keep him out of that aspect of her life... Until one day he gets drunk, comes home, they argue... and he breaks her miniatures.
And I quote:
"He opened the door and threw the scraps of my work out onto the porch.
I fell to the ground, empty, like I'd been tossed out, too.
Right there was where my life stopped.
Where my marriage broke."
And then this...
"'He left two weeks later. I think he couldn't handle what he'd done.'
'Or what he was told he did. If he really doesn't remember, that has to be a little scary, huh?'
[...]'I know. And maybe now he thinks I'm a reminder of the worst that he's capable of.'
[...]'But what if you haven't seen the worst he's capable of?'
The question causes me to rub my chest, trying to get through to the ache inside. 'Frannie,' I say, my voice breaking. 'Why do you think I moved out?'"
I just... I can't.
He didn't hit her. He didn't call her a whore for allowing Gallery Guy to flirt with her. He didn't threaten her. They argued, and he broke the miniature art piece that she had been working on. Which ruined their marriage and sent Charlotte into an 18 month long depression.
Oh yes, you heard right. 18 months. The depression was longer than their marriage, and possibly longer than their entire relationship. Over a broken miniature art piece that they couldn't find it within themselves to work past.
Aside from the utter fucking ridiculous catalyst for the entire story, I didn't find anything particularly funny, though it was definitely trying, and I didn't like the writing all that much either. Things just randomly happen, huge time jumps occur and suddenly it's 1, or 5, or 18 months later, with no feeling of change or progress at all. Charlotte's nicknames are both "clever" references to her emotional state: Char (as in burned) and Hard Broken/Broke-Broke/Broken. And of course by the end, after all her Roller Derby Confidence Fixes Everything, she dumps the jerkbag and scores a date with the hottie from roller derby with the crush on her that she never gave two seconds thought to previously.
I'm trying to think, and I can't come up with a single redeeming thing about this book at all. Overall, I'd describe the entire book as TSTL. It felt like it was trying too hard to be unique or quirky or something, but just felt cliched. Add in completely unlikable characters I couldn't identify with in any way, and a catalyst that's TSTFB (too stupid to fucking believe), and I want my wasted time back.