Saturday, November 9, 2019

Review: The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

It's funny how fast scandals fade away. Unless, of course, you personally are affected by the scandal. And then it might be so damaging that is has long-lasting, life-altering consequences. For instance, do you remember the Ashley Madison scandal? I bet you remembered it once I named it but unless it touched your life beyond gossipy chit chat, you'd probably dismissed it from your consciousness. It probably changed a lot of people's lives though, exposed them to truth they wanted to keep hidden or to hurt they didn't deserve. This is definitely the case for the main character in Lisa Barr's novel, The Unbreakables.

Sophie Bloom is out to dinner for her birthday with her husband, her two best friends, and their spouses when she discovers that Gabe, her husband, the man she's loved and been with since high school, is listed as one of the biggest serial cheaters in their town on the Ashley Madison site. He used the service 43 different times. That's 43 documented instances of cheating. Fleeing the dinner, she ends up at the beach with her friends, only to discover more indignities. One friend cheated with Gabe while the other friend knew about it. How do you process that level of betrayal from almost every person in your life that you have ever loved? In Sophie's case, she processes it (or not) by jetting off to France to help her distraught 19 year old daughter who is studying abroad. It turns out that her daughter has been cheated on too. But then this 19 year old turns out to possibly be pregnant by her married 40 plus year old professor rather than by her cheating boyfriend. After Sophie solves her daughter's problems, she decides that she needs to take some time to reevaluate and rediscover herself as well. Once a promising sculptor who gave up her art to be a mother and a wife, she heads south to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where she embarks on a new life, one that is sexually adventurous and professionally fulfilling.

Sophie's world has obviously crumbled and she's reeling so the reader might be expected to sympathize with her but somehow, even in the midst of all of her problems, she is hard to like and even harder to connect with. Her internal dialogue might be true to someone trying to process the destruction of her (not so) perfect life and marriage but it got repetitive. The plot was so over the top and melodramatic that is was completely unbelievable. Throwing a wealthy suburban American woman into a menage a trois with two young and gorgeous French people in order to show Sophie reclaiming her sexuality isn't a feminist move, it's just one more completely unbelievable situation amongst a host of them. Barr can turn a phrase and the mechanics of the writing rescues this somewhat but in the end, it's too full of soap opera drama, too coincidental, too contrived, and too easily resolved. Others felt far differently than I did though so perhaps I just wasn't the proper audience for it.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and the publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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