The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs (★★★☆☆)

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

Matthew Dicks  *  St. Martin’s Press  *  September 8, 2015  *  224 Pages

Caroline Jacobs is a good wife and a devoted (yet frustrated) mother. She is friendless and isolated. And even though she is obviously a gifted photographer, she is so afraid to show her work to anyone but her husband, that nobody knows. Caroline is invisible. In fact, she has spent her whole life trying to be. She avoids all confrontation, folds immediately at the slightest hint of conflict, and dodges any opportunity to reveal her true self in a meaningful way. She longs to be noticed but is terrified of potential rejection.

It makes sense that a person can only exist like that for so long. So when Caroline watches the PTO president belittle another hard-working but down-on-her-luck parent at a general PTO meeting, Caroline loses it and accidentally tells the PTO prez to f*ck off. This awkward (and slightly unbelievable) moment leads Caroline and her teenage daughter, Polly, on a road trip down memory lane, where Caroline decides to tell her former childhood best friend-turned-bully, Emily, just how terrible it was when Emily decided to ditch Caroline in high school for a cooler crowd.

Which all sounds very heavy, right? I mean, this book covers some pretty serious subjects:  bullying, revenge, social isolation, feelings of low self-worth. I was expecting–even hoping–that Caroline’s story would be powerful and insightful. I wanted depth, development, FEELING. But despite the potentially intense subject matter, the story stays light, the plot and characters very superficial. As a result, the issues never felt important to me. I wanted more backstory. I wanted a more realistic resolution. I wanted deeper connection between the characters. Unfortunately, the story just never got there.

Ultimately, this book was a much lighter read than I wanted it to be. It was entertaining, yes, but I think it had the potential to be so much more than that. I couldn’t help but feel that there was a missed opportunity here.

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