A Window Opens Review
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Most mothers suffer from at least a nominal level of Mom Guilt. It’s rare to find a mom—whether she’s a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or something in between—who never feels like she’s not doing enough. And while fluffy chick lit often offers a much-needed escape from pressures and guilt, author Elisabeth Egan’s A Window Open might make readers feel even worse.

The story begins as Alice Pearce is nudged into a new chapter in her life. When her husband, Nicholas, learns that he won’t be making partner at his prestigious law firm, he snaps, throwing his laptop at his boss before quitting his job. So, after years of juggling a great part-time job with her duties as mom to three growing kids, Alice takes a full-time job with a company that’s working to innovate the book-buying experience. And as she struggles to keep up with her new employer’s expectations, she also fights to balance work with the growing challenges at home.

In the beginning, A Window Opens gives off a breezy, chick lit vibe. As Alice steps up to this big new challenge, anxious yet eager to try something new, her future seems delightfully predictable: though she’ll have to sacrifice a few things along the way, she’ll eventually find the strength to succeed at her new job before coming home to a loving family. And, in the process, she’ll give those tired moms who get to squeeze in a few pages after the kids are asleep—or on the train ride home from work—just a little bit of hope.

Unfortunately, though, that’s not how Alice’s story plays out. Not only does her wonderful new job create a rift between Alice and her best friend, an independent bookstore owner, but it turns out to be far from wonderful. Meanwhile, at home, she becomes more and more removed from her kids’ lives, and her husband seems to be working less and drinking more. As if all that weren’t already bad enough, her father’s cancer returns, too. And while Alice tries to do it all—spending time with her kids, caring for her parents, and enduring her employers in order to pay the bills—instead of love and support, she gets guilt trips in return. As the story becomes more dismal, the characters become less likable.

At times, Egan tries to infuse the story with touches of humor, making Alice’s new job an adventure in acronyms, ridiculous catch phrases, and bizarre regulations. But the company’s quirks are generally more frustrating than funny. Instead of adding some much-needed levity to a surprisingly heavy story, Alice’s strange work environment seems to make things even worse. And the result is a novel that may pull you in with its promising set-up, only to leave you with an overwhelming feeling that not only can you not do it all, but it’s probably not even worth trying.

A Window Opens does have some bright moments—but it definitely isn’t the upbeat and inspiring light read that you might be seeking. Instead, it forces its main character to run an increasingly grueling gauntlet of expectations and guilt that will most likely leave you feeling hopeless and depressed.

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