What makes us a family? Sharing the same mother and father? Our siblings or grandparents? What about the close family friend who, as long as you can remember, you called Uncle So and So even though he is not your mother's brother or your father's. And your best friend. . . is she family? She may not be your sister, but you certainly feel as though she is. In The Atlas of Love, the debut novel by Laurie Frankel, this question is pushed to its limits.
No matter how we plan our lives, right down to the smallest detail, our lives often take an unexpected turn. For Jill, this occurs when she learns she's pregnant and her boyfriend isn't thrilled to become a father. As he fades from her life, best friends Janey and Katie step in and offer to co-parent. The three friends are also graduate students and devise a plan that will allow each to attend and teach class, study and take care of Jill's baby. After Jill gives birth, neither woman is prepared for what comes next.
The Atlas of Love is told in Janey's voice. Janey is the peacemaker of the group. She definitely takes care of everyone (she cooks all the meals) and puts her friends' needs in front of her own. Katie is the romantic. She is looking to marry and have children. Each time she dates a new guy, she looks at him as being The One. And then there's Jill. She's the hardest one for me to describe. At times she can be kind and sweet, while at other times she's downright selfish and entitled.
Despite their planning, this new living arrangement begins to spin out of control. A medical emergency will cause each woman to evaluate her life as well as their friendship. As each woman begins her own journey, the meaning of family will begin to take shape. How each defines family will be different, however necessary as all three women begin a new chapter in their lives.
The Atlas of Love is a novel that should not be missed. Frankel is a talented author. I am looking forward to reading her future works.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pub. Date: August 17, 2010
Source: Personal copy