Friday 5 March 2021

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin | Book Review

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin - 3/5

"After years spent in the city, working with his business partner Randy on Bränd media, Ethan finds himself in the quiet, closed-off town of Starkfield. His wife Zenobia is perpetually distracted by the swirling #MeToo politics, the Kavanaugh hearings, and her duties to the feminist activism group she formed: All Them Witches. Ethan finds himself caught between their regular meetings at his home and the battle to get his livewire daughter Alex to sleep.

But the new, stilted rhythm of his life is interrupted when he receives a panicked message. Accusations. Against Randy. A slew of them. And Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most."

The Smash-Up is a modern retelling of the 1911 novel 'Ethan Frome' by Edith Wharton, not one that I've read before.

Ethan and Zo (Zenobia) live in Starkfield, Massachusetts after moving there from New York 16 years ago. Zo is a filmmaker and Ethan sold his shares in his company that he co-founded with friend Randy. Randy wanted to move the business to LA whilst Zo wanted to stay in New York so Ethan chose her. 

In present day, they have an 11 year old daughter called Alex who has ADHD and have recently moved in a girl in her early twenties, Maddy, to help with babysitting.

Trump has just been elected President, Brett Kavanaugh's hearing is airing, it's the height of the #MeToo movement and Zo is part of an activist group with the local women called All Them Witches. This gives Zo a purpose but it is affecting her and Ethan's relationship. It doesn't help when Randy has accusations made against him and asks for Ethan's help.

I'll be honest and say that I struggled with this book. The main plot of the story is very important but I just think the writing style wasn't for me, combined with the slow pace of the book and the fact that I didn't particularly like any of the characters, aside from Alex. I must say that the sensory issues were written extremely well with regards to her.

The last 20% really turned it around. The ending was very well done and did surprise me. 

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