Published by Little Brown and Company on October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Adult
Buy on Amazon
A genius novel from the author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced to abandon her small ambitions when she awakes to a strange, new future unfolding.
Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.
TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple was my book club’s selection for January. We read the author’s previous book, Where’d You Go, Bernadette last year, and most of the group loved it. I was in the minority in not being quite as fond of it, so I wasn’t overly excited about starting this one. But I wanted to give it a fair shot, and after seeing that it was going to be made into a movie with Julia Roberts, I was hopeful.
The story takes place over one day in Eleanor Flood’s life, but there are plenty of flashbacks that take us to various other points in her life. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t like Eleanor. She was annoying, self-indulgent, and overly dramatic. She doesn’t bother to dig deeper when she sees that something is clearly bothering her husband, because hey, taking words at face value is just something you can do when you’ve been married that long. And she thinks her “guy-like” behavior is something her husband likes about her, so it’s cool that she’s not concerned. Insert many eye rolls. Her interactions with other people in her life don’t do much to improve my opinion. She is condescending and fake, and her charm (which she claims makes everyone like her) just came across as obnoxious.
Throughout the day, we discover two secrets: one from Eleanor’s past, and one that her husband is keeping in the present. There were several times when the flashbacks seemed to start randomly and were very scattered. I was listening to the audiobook, and I thought the narrator did a great job. I’m not sure I could’ve stuck with this one if I’d been reading it.
Despite all of the things that I didn’t like about this book, I actually really did like the theme of making today different. I like the idea of being present, being your best self: radiating calmness, being kind, and really listening when people speak to you. So many times, we rush around and are consumed with our phones and our jobs and all of our other responsibilities that we forget how important it can be to actually connect and be in the moment.
Most of the other women in my book club shared a similar opinion of the book. There were a couple of people who really liked it and related to it on a more personal level, but overall, it wasn’t a hit.