Commitment: A novel

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If the Tolstoy adage that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” is true, then it may follow that each unhappy family can find a unique way to cope and find the resilience to keep going. Thus far, Mona Simpson’s writing has been family-themed. In this newest family novel, the father is absent, and the mother can no longer cope. In 1972, state hospitals were closing. In this story, the single mother has raised her three children thus far through a demanding career and having the friendship of a peer.

Her three children are at different stages; the eldest and arguably the most promising is on his way to college; the second aspires to Ivy League, and the third is still a youngster. As the mother retreats into her illness, perhaps exacerbated by the haughty greeting of another mother with a college-bound student, perhaps sending a message to her that it will never be enough: a message heard resoundingly by all mothers. It is poignant even though the reader, along with her children, can never know how to bring this mother back to her family.

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Author Mona Simpson
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 21-Mar-2023
ISBN 9780593319277 Buy this Book
Issue November 2023
Category Modern Literature


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