Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson explores, through many different perspectives, the plight of a single mother once her girls are grown and she realizes that she is chock-full of regrets. Ellen McGinty, a loud-mouthed and occasionally vulgar Publicist, in an effort to reclaim a semblance of contentment, impulsively leaves her job, sells the house she raised her children in and begins to rebuild a sexy, happy new life.
When reading the synopsis of Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson, I must say, I was expecting a relatively generic story of woman’s quest to self-realization; however, I was pleasantly surprised when Adderson depicted vivid, complex characters in a funny and emotionally powerful way.
Admittedly, I cannot quite identify with being a struggling mother with a flakey ex-husband, but Adderson makes Ellen’s wit, raunchiness and pain important to me. I enjoyed being inside her mind as, quite honestly, she reminded me of my own mother; strong, willful and vulgar (in the most entertaining way)! Additionally, Adderson revealed the lives of others in Ellen’s life, and while at first I found it odd that I was learning the back story to Ellen’s sex partner (who is 20 years her junior), it became clear that it was Adderson’s process of adding depth to the story and characters.
Adderson’s writing style soon became ideal to me because she made the many perspectives and temporal shifts that she offered seamlessly flow into one another. Adderson put me in the minds of all the characters, allowing me to acknowledge the different sides of the same story rather than forcing me to accept Ellen’s perception as the authority. That is why her characters are so real and relevant, because, as in real life, events and people are not as black and white as “I hate/love this”, or “I am happy/sad”, and that message is clearly portrayed through Ellen’s life.
Overall, I felt immersed in the sexy, emotional and heartfelt story of Ellen and all those in her life.