Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: "Wife 22" by Melanie Gideon

Alice Buckle is a wife, a mother, a motherless daughter, a best friend and a middle-school drama teacher. When Alice's husband inadvertently refers to her life as being "small", Alice begins to wonder if it really is small. Shortly after that comment causes her re-evaluate her life she receives an e-mail from a research facility that is conducting research about marriage and what makes couples work (or not work).

Alice decides to participate and she is assigned a code name "Wife 22", while her researcher is assigned the handle "Researcher 101". As the two begin to correspond their conversations take a decidedly personal turn and Alice is faced with making a monumental decision that could affect her family and her future.

What a unique and very enjoyable book! While in some ways Wife 22 followed a familiar pattern, in others it decidedly did not. Let me explain what I mean. Wife 22 has a fairly familiar plot. A woman, in middle age with rapidly growing children who will soon be leaving home, finds herself evaluating her life and her marriage. Will there be enough left between herself and her husband when the kids leave? Does she love her children too much? While the plot is familiar, the way that author Melanie Gideon decides to explore this question is not. Some of the book is written in a manner that you would traditionally expect from a fictional book, but most is not. Parts of the book are Facebook status updates, while others are texts. There are e-mails and Google searches and Twitter conversations. The most unique elements are Alice's answers to the questions that Researcher 101 is asking. The questions are not included until the very end of the story so the reader is left guessing what those questions may have been. It made for a very interesting as well as timely book, considering that we communicate in so many different ways today.

My only complaint is that Alice includes dialogue in some of her answers to Researcher 101's questions. Gideon did address this by explaining that Alice once was, and still yearns to be, a playwright, so she's used to writing in dialogue, but for me it still seemed out of place. Those sections were very well-written, as was the rest of the book, but including dialogue in her answers seemed unrealistic to me.

I'm so glad that I had the chance to read and review Wife 22. It was a reflection on the realities of long-term marriage that I had a hard time putting down and I especially enjoyed the conclusion. My thanks to the publishers for providing me with a review copy.


  1. I really want to read this soon - hoping before the end of the year. So many good books this year!! Glad to see you enjoyed it.

    1. I know, re: so many books! I have a stack of books waiting for me and I can't decide what to read next- they all look so good!

  2. I like the sound of this Jonita, and think I'll move it up a bit on my list.

  3. I agree with your critiques, and I really did like the first half of the book. I think I'm just a bit too cynical for the ending.