Let me start off by saying I really liked this book. Despite the fact that all the characters are sad and/or distraught, despite the fact that a horrifically tragic event takes place - the writing is simply amazing. The book is so vivid without being wordy. Sentences are expertly strung together to create a completely engaging story even while you cringe through the scenes.
I say all this first so the plot won't dissuade you from reading this book. Don't miss out because you're worried about the story being a downer.
The book begins in the middle of Emilia's story. She's already ended a marriage in order to create her own love story, becoming the hated step-mother in the process. Once a successful lawyer, Emilia is now an aimless soul who has just lost her own daughter to SIDS. In heavy mourning, Emilia is struggling to re-center herself while trying to connect with her five-year-old stepson. Not an easy thing to do when being around children plummets her deeper into the well of depression.
So, I wasn't kidding about this being a sad book, but it's not a depressing book. Emilia is just lost. She has too much to process and lacks the confidence to face it all head-on. This all makes Emilia feel human, feel real. It's not hard to connect on some level with her. Actually, all Waldman's characters are like this. Even William, the overly-informative stepson is described so clearly that you're able to get into this head just a little.
This is a book about compassion rather than despair and I really liked how reading it made me feel.
As a side note, Waldman is married to another amazing writer, Michael Chabon. If you've never read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay run, don't walk, and get a copy NOW!