Squashed among a bus full of strangers, mother-daughter duo Jessica and Emily Burnstein watch their carefully mapped-out college tour devolve into a series of off-roading misadventures, from the USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
Jessica and Emily Burnstein have very different ideas of how this college tour should go.
For Emily, it’s a preview of freedom, exploring the possibility of her new and more exciting future. Not that she’s sure she even wants to go to college, but let’s ignore that for now. And maybe the other kids on the tour will like her more than the ones at school. . . . They have to, right?
For Jessica, it’s a chance to bond with the daughter she seems to have lost. They used to be so close, but then Goldfish crackers and Play-Doh were no longer enough of a draw. She isn’t even sure if Emily likes her anymore. To be honest, Jessica isn’t sure she likes herself.
Together with a dozen strangers–and two familiar enemies–Jessica and Emily travel the East Coast, meeting up with family and old friends along the way. Surprises and secrets threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever.
I was Told It Would Get Easier is a sweet, heartwarming and extremely entertaining story of what it’s like to be a teenager in the modern world and what it’s like to be that teenager’s mother.
Jessica Burnstein is a 45 year-old high-powered lawyer and a single mum by choice. It is impossible not to love this character. Jessica is smart, witty (actually, the beginning of the book reminded me of stand-up comedy and was a bit too much for my simple soul before the first three cups of coffee), kind, generous, supportive, humble, and strong. She stands up for two of her female colleagues who are about to miss being made partners in her law firm on the absurd pretext that people would think it was a token gesture due to unsavoury behaviour by one of the former partners. Jessica threatens to quit her job unless her boss makes the board see how wrong this sexist decision would be. She has one week to consider all possible consequences during a college tour trip with her sixteen year old daughter Emily. Emily is also keen to keep a low profile for a few days due to mysterious trouble at school. Jessica knows their relationship isn’t as straightforward as it used to be before her sweet kid became a moody sulky teenager. However hard she tries to communicate, more often than not their conversations turn into arguments. She is hoping to break these walls and rekindle their mother-daughter connection.
This is a character-driven story. The plot is just based around Emily and Jessica’s college tour and their interactions with other college-obsessed parents and children and meeting a few of Jessica’s old friends, but the characters… I absolutely adored them. The story is told in alternating POVs and this dual mother-daughter perspective gives you a great insight into how similar their reactions to various events are and what is happening in their relationship. Jessica reflects on the fact that her job as a parent seems to be almost done– Emily is about to leave the nest and start living her adult life- and how for all parents on this trip their obsession with colleges may be their last chance to protect and ensure a better future for their children. She also thinks a lot about her own parents who helped her a lot when Emily was a baby which allowed Jessica to build her professional career by doing something she loved. Emily (remember we have the benefit of being able to read her mind) still needs her mum to make her feel safe and protected.
I would of course recommend this story to parents of teenagers or young adults who would strongly identify with the pressures and dilemmas the main characters are grappling with. The pressure to be a perfect parent whether you are a stay at home full-time mum who is afraid that she hasn’t taught her children to be independent because she was too available, or a working mother whose daughter is jealous of her mother’s co-workers because they get to see her more often. Or the pressure of being a teenager who has to fit in and stand out in the right way, to be interesting, not weird, with perfect grades and perfect online image. All of this while trying to figure out what to do in future.
I am a big fan of Abbi Waxman’s sense of humour. The banter is fabulous. I really couldn’t help laughing out loud. The whole book is just sweet, light-hearted and enjoyable, a perfect summer read.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read I was Told It Would Get Easier or is it on your tbr?
- Have you read other books by Abbi Waxman?
- Do you think teenagers nowadays have more pressures compared to their parents’ generation?