Task: Read a book by debut novelist.
Alternatives: Read a book about war. Read a book by an immigrant.
I read American War right around the time that I returned to work after maternity leave. If you’ve never returned to full time employment after a sudden and total immersion on Planet Baby, let me tell you – hell, I don’t even know what to tell you. It was hard. Hard in ways I didn’t understand, couldn’t have anticipated, and had a rough time coping with. The smallbear had started sleeping through the night right before I went back, bless her, but the sleep debt I had racked up during the past three months had started sending goons with baseball bats to my front door, and between the intense exhaustion and the abject lack of baby at work, I was stumbling around barely conscious and frantic to prove to my coworkers that I was still somewhat competent (against all odds, this was one of the most productive periods of work I’ve ever had). Being suddenly separated from this creature that had been living inside my body for months and then in whose constant company I’d been for twenty-four hours a day felt like getting thrown into ice water. I didn’t do much but work, pump, and cry for those first few weeks back. And I WANTED to go back to work, mind you.
[Statement of the obvious: three months isn’t enough. And I was so lucky to have that much in this terrible country.]
That has absolutely nothing to do with this book, which I read a handful of paragraphs at a time over about a month. Readers have to meet books halfway, and this book deserved better than I was able to give. I did make it all the way through and I do have opinions about it. I just feel like I missed out on the true readery experience of the thing and like I’m working with a remembered Wikipedia entry instead. With that said, here’s what I thought about it.