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On Grace

Title: On Grace
Author: Susie Orman Schnall
Publisher: Sing Out Press
Publication Date: June 9, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615809830
Pages: 258
How I got it: from the author

SUMMARY (Author Supplied)
Grace May is truly excited about turning 40 in a few months. And now that her boys are both in school and she has a stimulating new writing job, the next chapter in her life can finally begin. She can't wait to rediscover the intelligent and interesting woman deeply buried under the layers of mother and wife.
But when Grace loses her job and gets unexpected news from her husband and her best friend, life suddenly gets complicated. Grace stands to lose everything: her marriage, her best friend, and her sense of self. But by her 40th birthday party, Grace will realize who and what matter most. With laughter. With tears. With grace.
ON GRACE embraces themes that will resonate with every woman who owns at least one pair of Spanx: fidelity, friendship, and finding oneself at 40. It's soulful and sweet, sexy and sad, straight up and smart, and, ultimately, quite satisfying. The story's relatable authenticity definitely connects with readers. 


Have you ever read the first ten pages of a book and sat, mouth gaping, saying "This is my life."? Well I hadn't until I read ON GRACE. The novel opens with Grace anticipating her soon to be free days. Her youngest will be starting school and she can now decide what she wants to fill her days with beyond the demands of motherhood. Wanting to re-enter the workforce, Grace encounters obstacles due to her lapse in work history and rethinks what she should be doing with her time. Should she keep pursuing trying to get a writing job or should she focus on non-employment endeavors?

It is important to note that this should not be categorized as a "mommy wars" novel, as the story is not centered around working versus stay-at-home mothers. Schnall presents characters doing variations on that previously presented binary with the focus not on the labels themselves but how each woman expresses her individual identity.  However, Schnall doen't shrink from drawing attention to the inequalities and benefits of unpaid labor.  For example:

As I chop lettuce, I fantasize about the stay-at-home moms going on strike. Picketing all the school book fairs, hospital benefits, and canned food drives that, if it weren’t for their unpaid labor, would never happen.

Expanding out from Grace's individual career decisions Schnall provides a realistic and identifiable view of Grace as a wife, friend, sister, daughter and mother. Grace is faced with deciding if one mistake eradicates years of wonderful marriage, as well as stepping up for a friend in need.

Author Susie Orman Schnall provides a glimpse behind the white picket fence but not in a dramatic, "Desperate Housewives" sort of way. She gives us an everywoman with Grace, a woman juggling all her duties and always looking ahead with equal parts fear and excitement. Written in an approachable style with relatable characters, dialogues, and events, Schnall's style captures an entire demographic and provides comfort to those that identify with her work. I will be recommending ON GRACE not only for the story itself, but for Schnall's true voice.  I hope for more great works from her in the future.

** I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review **

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