All Fall Down

image003By Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books, 400 pages

Clearly, Jennifer Weiner is doing something right. With best seller after best seller, she’s obviously got a gift. So, why do most of Weiner’s books leave me feeling sort of underwhelmed? Perhaps it’s because the experience of reading them is like being inside of my own head.

If you’re an educated, liberal, upper-middle-class, middle-ageish Jewish woman living in a suburb on the East Coast, you’ve probably had all the thoughts and many of the experiences Weiner describes in her novels.

“All Fall Down,” Weiner’s newest novel, has many of the trappings of her previous books. But this time around, the book deals with issues more serious than planning a successful bat mitzvah.

Its heroine, Allison Weiss, a Jewish 40-something graphic designer turned blogger who grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional family outside of Philadelphia, is married to her dream guy.

To the casual observer, Allison has it made. But in reality, she’s a train wreck. Caring for her high-strung 5-year-old daughter is way more than she bargained for. Allison’s marriage is deteriorating, her father’s Alzheimer’s is worsening, and her mother is an emotional mess. No wonder Allison has become addicted to prescription painkillers.

Weiner skillfully maintains the balance between the character’s wry sense of humor and the seriousness of her illness. “All Fall Down” is an enjoyable read laced with an important caveat: Addiction can happen to anyone.
— Simone Ellin

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