Although all the characters in the novel are relatable and funny, they also seemed stereotypical and scripted at times. My favorite characters is Hillary Foxman, the mother, because she breaks the mold throughout the story.
As her children arrive to her husband’s (and their father’s) funeral, Hillary repeats to each one at different times: “It’s ok to cry or laugh. There is no correct emotional response” which is typical shrink comment that hinted at a traditional upbringing. But as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Hillary’s treatment and expectations for each one of her children is different.
Parenting can have many different versions, none of which are necessarily wrong. In spite of their problems, all four children are smart, healthy and functioning people with the normal amount of social and personal issues. Hillary Foxman’s career as a writer and parenting guru may have created tension and distance in her relationship with the children because she uses them as examples in her books and shares with her readers intimate private childhood issues.
Still, I consider Hillary is a good mother because:
· She is the communication channel between father and kids after they move out.
· Although she can seem superficial, she can also be viewed as practical and direct.
· She is not dramatic about mistakes, problems and personal weaknesses.
· Separates being a mother from being a successful woman with sexual needs.
· Craves being in the center stage, which makes her successful in her career.
· Doesn’t hide from her kids, but rather celebrates, that parents are sexually active.
· Encourages people to be themselves and react as they may.
· Doesn’t make excuses for people; she accepts them and loves them as they are.
It was interesting to me how the four children begrudge their mother’s choice to be a not only a parent but also a successful shrink and writer, a sexually active female, aesthetically pleasing, and an individual who wants to explore her sexuality during her golden years… as if the choice to be a mother should inform (and preclude) every other decision in her life. Hillary is a modern woman who will not be boxed into the role of typical motherhood in which she sacrifices everything else. She is confident, strong, imposing, and the only character that actively chooses what she wants in her life and has the courage to go for it.