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Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta
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Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel

by Tom Perrotta

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OH MY...oh my my my... ( )
  wandaly | Oct 17, 2017 |
This is my first book my Tom Perrotta, but I look forward to reading the rest of his books that have been sitting on my shelf for a long time. Mrs. Fletcher (Eve) is a forty-six year old divorcee who just dropped her son off for college and returns home to an empty nest. Eve is witty and funny and I loved her immediately. She is lonely and seeking ways to fill the void. She begins watching porn at night and that leads to a sexual awakening of sorts. “She wanted something else-something different-though what that something was remained to be seen. All she really knew was that it was a big world out there, and she’d only been scratching the surface.” She decides to take a class at the community college and quickly develops friendships with the others in her class. “The important thing was that she was here, trying something different, meeting new people, making her world bigger instead of hunkering down, disappearing into her own solitude.”
The class she takes introduces us to a whole assortment of other troubled individuals. Margo is the instructor of the class. She is a transgender who is struggling with acceptance from the world and confidence within herself. “She didn’t really feel middle-aged. In her heart, she was a teenager, still learning the ins and outs of her new body. Still hoping for her share of love and happiness and fun, all those good things that the world sometimes provided.” “She was there to show the world what happiness and freedom looked like. You glowed with it. You did exactly what you wanted to. And whatever costume you wore, you were still yourself, unique and beautiful and unmistakable for anyone else.” “What she wouldn’t have given back then (as a teenager) to hear a trans adult tell her that she wasn’t alone, that happiness and wholeness were possible, that you could find a way to become the person you knew in your heart you truly were, despite all undeniable evidence to the contrary.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Fletcher’s son, Brendan is having a hard time at college. Eve says of Brendan: “He presented himself to the world- as a big, friendly, fun-loving bro- a dude you’d totally want on your team or in your frat.” Even though Brendan comes across this way, it becomes clear that he has a lot of built up issues, a lot of them to do with his father who left the family for another woman when Brendan was younger. Eve: “…something had gone out of him in the process (of divorce), all the boyish softness and vulnerability that had touched her so deeply. He just wasn’t as nice a person as he used to be- not nearly as sweet or as kind or as lovable- and she couldn’t forgive herself for letting that happen, for not knowing how to protect him, or how to fix what was broken.” “The divorce had left her with a permanently guilty conscience that made it almost impossible for her to stay mad at her son or hold him accountable for his actions.”
Brendan begins to struggle with fitting in, finding friends, and keeping his grades up. “One thing you realize when you’re on your own is how happy the people who aren’t alone look.” His father comes for a visit during family day with his wife and Brendan’s autistic step-brother, Jon-Jon. He says of his step-brother, “the whole time he was screaming and thrashing around, I kept thinking how unfair it was the my father loved him so much and held him so tight- way tighter than he’d ever held me-and wouldn’t let go no matter what.” Brendan is jealous of his step-brother and desperate for his father’s love and attention. He has felt neglected by him his whole life.

By the end of the book, most of the characters have managed to find some sort of happiness and understanding. I think this quote from the cover sums up the book perfectly: “a moving and funny examination of sexuality, identity, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure who they are and where they belong.”

“You feel what you fucking feel. You don’t have to apologize to anyone.”
“You couldn’t turn away from the truth just because it ripped your guts out.” ( )
  dawnlovesbooks | Oct 5, 2017 |
As a divorcee in her mid-40s, Eve Fletcher is struggling with the fact that her only son, Brendan, is heading off to college. Suddenly, Eve is truly alone for the first time. Shortly after she takes Brendan to college, Eve receives a strange text message reading, "U r my MILF!" Baffled, the message takes Eve down a strange path that includes an obsession with MILF-related porn. Suddenly, her regular life--work as the Executive Director at the local senior center, taking classes at the community college, and her various friendships--seems somewhat tinged by her porn habit. Meanwhile, Brendan isn't finding college all he thought it would be. His fellow chauvinistic/jock roommate is suddenly shunning him and his partying habits are catching up with him. Before they know it, Eve and Brendan are on a collision course for some crazy and interesting situations.

First of all, don't bother with this novel if you can't handle sexual or porn references in your reading: let's just get that out there. There are all sorts of said references in Perrotta's latest and while you could argue that they are plot driven, it certainly gets to be a bit much at times.

For me, this one was a tad odd. Parts of it I really enjoyed; others, I just found bizarre and strange (and I've read other Perrotta works, so I know somewhat what to expect with him). The early parts of the novel were almost tender and hit a bit close to home, as I'm the only child of a single (also divorced) mother. The relationship between Eve and Brendan is interesting and well-explored, and you certainly have sympathy for Eve. In fact, many of the adults in this novel are so incredibly sad and lonely--and they have some extremely realistic moments and situations.

Alas, Brendan is really just insufferable, and you can't help but like Eve a little less as the result. I rarely enjoyed any of the sections told from his point of view. As the novel progresses, it increases its perspectives--bringing in the secondary characters--and you really do get drawn into their lives. Perrotta is an engaging writer and while not all his characters in this one are likeable, nor do they always act rationally, they are dynamic. Indeed, this is often just a plain old weird and bizarre novel. Some places I found myself thinking Is this really happening?? (Oh it was.)

So, in the end this is an amusing tale--with a surprising depth--that offers a fairly accurate portrayal about society and sexuality/gender. The characters are certainly interesting, even if pieces can be ridiculous and preposterous. The ending left me feeling a little let down, which was a tad disappointing, and kept it from being higher than a 3-star review for me.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available everywhere as of 08/01/2017.

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  justacatandabook | Sep 20, 2017 |
Extreme empty nest syndrome. Somewhat interesting perspective on a divorced woman who begins to reclaim her sexual existence after her only child leaves for college. It flips back and forth between her adjusting to her new life and the boy adjusting to his new life in college. It juxtaposes the experience of both generations as they explore their new "freedom" with modern sexual mores and practices (including technology). ( )
  Mark.Kosminskas | Sep 11, 2017 |
Tom Perrotta's 'Mrs. Fletcher' is one of those books outside my usual sphere of interest that was so enjoyable I'm now interested in digging deeper into the author's catalog.

Mrs. Fletcher is a pretty, divorced middle-aged woman who's son has left the nest for his freshman year in college. The kid's a screw-up: partier, video game player, non-studier, and a guy who disrespects women. While he's away at school, one of his 'friends' sends his mom an anonymous text message telling her, in effect, she's hot for age. That jump-starts a whole chain of sexual-awakening events for her, one of which was that she becomes addicted to MILF porn on the internet (if you don't know what that is, just Google it....).

So, the remainder of the novel essentially involves Mrs. Fletcher's search for love, or at least some sex, from one or more members of the opposite, or the same, sex, her son's interactions with his college roommate and various female partners, and other characters involved in the chases. It's set in the present day, so there's a huge dose of gender issues, technology, irony, political correctness, and all the other stuff I'm glad I missed out on while on my way to old age.

The writing and dialogue in Mrs. Fletcher are so well-done and realistic that you almost feel like you're overhearing a conversation as you're reading. It's my first exposure to this author and he's terrific. Mrs. Fletcher is terribly funny, a little dirty, open, and thoroughly fun to read. ( )
  gmmartz | Sep 11, 2017 |
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