Our Short History : A Novel
Booklist Reviews 2017 March #1
*Starred Review* Karen Neulander wasn't afraid of much, until she had to call her ex-boyfriend, Dave, to tell him about Jake, the six-year-old son he didn't know she'd had. Adding to this emotional chaos, Karen is a survivor of ovarian cancer and has no idea how long her current period of remission will last. A custody arrangement for Jake has already been planned out in the event of Karen's death, but she can't shake the feeling that Dave will try to interfere. In the face of so much turmoil, Karen decides to keep a written record of Jake's life to pass down to him after her death, and her journal, entitled "Our Short History," is that effort, composed of Karen's innermost thoughts, memories of Jake's first six years, and her dreams for his future. The novel's creative structure feels incredibly personal, since Karen isn't afraid to editorialize. Grodstein manages to walk the fine line between pathos and melodrama by painting Karen as a fully realized mother, sister, and friend, never allowing the cancer to consume her complex identity. Fans of Camille Pagán's Life and Other Near-Death Experiences (2015) will love Karen's unflinchingly honest journey. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2017 February #1
Karen Neulander is writing what no mother wants to give to her child: the story of their life together, to be read when he's an adult. Karen has Stage IV ovarian cancer, with a possibility of two years to live. She'll never get to see her six-year-old son, Jacob, go to college, or play sports, or marry. As a single mother, it's always been the two of them against the world. She's made plans for him to live with her sister's family after her death. Then Jacob asks to meet his father. When Dave learned Karen was pregnant, he insisted he didn't want to be a father and even questioned whether the baby was his. But now he's eager to meet his son, and Jacob and Dave bond immediately. Now, on top of her guilt, anger, and grief, Karen faces a new emotion: fear that her ex will take Jacob since she is dying.
PW Reviews 2017 January #5
Karen Neulander has a rotten deal. Diagnosed with stage-IV ovarian cancer, she tries to manage her health—surgeries and treatments to prolong her life—as well as her career—political consultant to a philandering New York City councilman running for reelection. Most important is her six-year-old son, Jake. While Jake knows she has a terminal illness, Karen fiercely protects his world and pens a book for him—the very book we are reading, in fact—so that she can leave him something tangible as a guide for his life without her. Knowing she won't be around forever, Jake suddenly wants to find his father, Dave, the love of Karen's life, who ditched her when he learned she was pregnant. Grodstein (