The Wednesday Group

the wednesday group Sylvia True

I was excited (is that the right word for a book like this?) to read The Wednesday Group. The subject matter–sex addiction, and, more specifically, how the partners of sex addicts cope–is unique, especially in fiction. And, while it kind of grosses me out, I also find it intriguing. Truth be told, I recently found out that two people in my extended family are struggling with sex addiction, and I hoped this book, if nothing else, would give me some insight into a world that I don’t entirely understand. I was also hoping this book would help me understand more fully the perspective of the partner of the sex addict; namely I wanted to understand, well…I wanted to understand why my sister stays with him, honestly.

Luckily, this is where the story excels. The book focuses on five women, all married to sex addicts. And Sylvia True, the author, very effectively communicates what it is like for them to try to coexist with their sex addict partners. I felt like I knew these women. I felt their angst. I understood how torn they were between staying with the men they loved and cutting their losses, scraping up their last remaining shreds of dignity, and running for the hills.

I give True credit for creating characters that were balanced. There are no caricatures here. These women may be experiencing pain and confusion, but they aren’t pushovers. They are clearly–and believably–trying to be strong and make the best decisions for themselves and their families:  they can stay and work through so much pain, hoping they can salvage some bit of goodness from their broken relationships, or they can spare themselves more heartache and leave…but maybe always wonder if they gave up too soon. I empathized with their shared dilemma.

Unfortunately, though, while I connected with the characters, the story itself fell a little flat. Most of the book is composed of dialogue between these five women while they attend a “spouses of sex addicts” AA-type meeting. So there is a lot of back and forth, a lot of sharing, but the deeper story ended up being sacrificed, in my opinion. I wanted to know more, I think. I wanted a more complete picture–of friendships, marriages, the day-to-day grind. I really wish True had been able to give me a connected picture of these women even outside their weekly group meeting.

My biggest complaint, though, is that the book’s ending was so deeply dissatisfying. It felt underdeveloped, rushed, and woefully incomplete. Whole story lines were just dropped or never resolved. Moreover, the book ended on a very weird cliffhanger. I just didn’t understand why True wouldn’t take a few pages to wrap things up, give the reader closure. It did not benefit the story at all to leave things as she did. Ambiguity can be powerful, sure, but I just felt confused.

So, overall, my reaction is mixed. I really enjoyed certain aspects of this book, but I thought others were definitely lacking. I think the book is worth reading, if only for the unique subject matter–just know the book won’t be as developed or complete as it could have been.

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