Although often billed as a romance, I would say this book is definitely not a rom-com. In fact, most of it is not even very happy. I myself was ready for something with a bit of a different flavour, something a little more serious and meaty, and this book hit the mark for me. The complicated characters and overlapping plotlines made my heart delight. I read the whole thing in the space of a day.
I could wax on all day about the character development in this book, it is that great. This really is a character driven book. The stories are told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Alice, Ann and Orla. I have a huge appreciation for the variety of ages these main characters are and the different stages they are at in their life. Orla is younger and establishing her career. Alice is married and a stay-at-home mom to four busy kids. Ann is approaching retirement and mourning her empty nest. There really is something for everyone here. Each of them is spectacularly crafted and as a reader I felt an attachment to all of them.
Through cleverly constructed dialogue when they visit the therapist, we also get great insight into how each of their partners are feeling which leads to a kind of balance in the narrative that we don’t always get in books. Even as you feel quite loyal to the three women, you are forced to consider alternate perspectives through the words of their partners. They say there are three sides to every story – his side, her side, and the truth and it’s interesting to watch that play out in this book.
It is hard to talk much about this book without spoiling it for you. I couldn’t even find a quote to use that wouldn’t give something away. I can say that each of the women explore deep issues like identity and past trauma and how those impact current relationships. I could personally relate to the journeys of Ann and Alice as they navigate expectations of motherhood and the loss of a sense of self that can happen both when your children are young and then again when they are grown. Orla’s journey wasn’t something I could relate to personally, but I was cheering for her and deeply invested in her story all the same. Perhaps my only disappointment in this book is that all the characters are cis-gendered and pursuing rather heteronormative relationships. If you prefer greater diversity in your reads, you may find yourself dissatisfied.
Overall, About Us is full of great characters you will care about and is a worthwhile read if you are looking for something more thought provoking.