Summary (from the publisher):
Five college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.
Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Laura Jamison’s debut, All the Right Mistakes, was the first book I read while floating around the pool this summer – and it was the perfect choice! I’m always ready for any book about female friends from college, especially having been obsessed with Elizabeth Ames’ The Other’s Gold last summer.
Ever since their first move-in day at Dartmouth, Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, Carmen, and Heather have been best friends. Instead of bonding over sorority rushes and homework like they used to, the women are now more likely to talk about their struggles with work-life balance and motherhood over anything else, despite having found success in their own ways. But when Heather, a famous tech executive, publishes an advice book based on her friends’ ‘mistakes,’ the other four begin to question each other’s friendship and all the choices that they’ve made since.
All the Right Mistakes provides great commentary on the many choices women are expected to make about their careers and family. Told from the third person perspectives of Sara, Elizabeth, Martha and Carmen, their four narratives each brought something unique to the conversation. Personally, I was most intrigued by Elizabeth and Sara’s storylines. Both work in very corporate-like settings. Each have to contend with choices about their jobs and children, with Elizabeth wanting to have another, while Sara has to decide between job advancements and spending more time with her family. It was really difficult to read the responses from their employers, as Elizabeth was often stereotyped by her bosses for being a mother and was not considered for promotions or client partnerships. Their relationship with Heather was also arguably the most complex, as they had trouble seeing Heather’s toxicity.
Carmen did grow on me as the story went on, and Martha’ storyline was definitely the heaviest of the four. There really was a balance in narratives between the working-mom, the stay-at-home moms, and the work-mom-balancers. Despite some heaviness and loss throughout, the book does take on a cheerier and optimistic ending as the women work to achieve what they want. I admit that the random faith moments did feel out of place with some characters, but I think the author was trying to get at the idea that the women were ultimately grateful for where their life choices took them.
Laura Jamison really dispels this idea of the insistence on having to have a ‘timeline’ regarding career choices and education, marriage, and children. As the title suggests, All the Right Mistakes is about how choices can take us for the most expected and unexpected journey – and the friends we take along for the ride. I think All the Right Mistakes will really appeal to readers around the same age as the characters or who share similar experiences. However, as a recent college graduate, I really appreciated the conversations surrounding what choices they made in their twenties and early careers.
All the Right Mistakes comes out on August 4, 2020.
This review is based on an advance reader copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is All the Right Mistakes on your TBR? Do you have any women’s fiction recommendations for me? Share in the comments!