Randy Susan Meyers weaves a complicated plot with ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE. It feels as though she wants to make the story as real and painful as possible. She wants the readers to be connected to the Illica family and she wants the readers to struggle right along with them.
In theory, it’s an excellent idea that would make for a compelling novel.
For me, it went wrong in a couple different ways.
Maddy and Ben Illica, the mercurial mother and father of the family, come across as irksome and self-centered. I felt like I was supposed to be on Maddy’s side because Ben was the one who shouted and threw things and came home late from work. But Maddy seemed to antagonize Ben every chance she got, picking away at him. His outbursts ended up seem at least partially legitimate.
He’s not blameless, though, and it’s his fault that Maddy suffers a traumatic brain injury. He chooses to sleep with an intern while she’s in the hospital. He lies to Maddy about what happened. And he’s not the most attentive of fathers through the course of the story.
Unlikable though they are, it’s easy to see that they both love their three children; Emma, Gracie, and Caleb.
Emma is a teenager just starting high school and she is both the most relatable and the most likable when the focus starts shifting between her, her repentant father, and her recovering mother. Emma was what kept me reading to the end of the story. I’d have quit if it weren’t for her.
There’s no firm happily ever after to this story and that probably makes the story more real, for lack of a better word, but it does feel like there could’ve been just a little bit, or even a lot, more about how things turned out for the Illicas.
ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is available for purchase September 2, 2014.
(I received a copy of ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE through NetGalley in exchange for an honest, original review. My review will be cross-posted at NetGalley, Goodreads, and my blog.)