Kristin Strong's Reviews > The Gap Year

The Gap Year by Sarah Bird
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Oct 10, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 10 to 20, 2011

After skimming a few of the reviews of this book on Goodreads, I think I may have read it with a different focus than some other readers. Maybe it's because I'm the mother of a tween daughter who one day (too soon for me, probably!) will begin to think about her future in very concrete terms, and, less theoretically than she does now, about the type of human being and woman she wants to become. The divergence of a mother's and daughter's ideas about these vital topics was the core of the book for me.

I enjoyed the book; it's not super-challenging literature, some of the characters are contrived to the point of stereotype, the setting IS a giant stereotype of Suburbia, and the ending wraps up a little bit too neatly for me...but, as I said, I wasn't reading this for literary analysis. I was reading this for a story that would pull me in and keep me interested for the length of the book. "The Gap Year" managed to do that.

It also disturbed me a bit, and made me think, and made me apply some of the events in the book to my own life. One terribly realistic aspect of the plot shows just how fragile is the membrane that connects a mother to a daughter -- I'm not talking about motherlove, which is unconditional and immutable; I'm talking about the common beliefs, values and experiences that tie a parent and a child together in the real world. Cam, the mother, has one vision of how her daughter's life should play out, and an idea of the type of person her daughter is. Aubrey, the daughter, has totally different ideas of how she wants herself and her future to develop. The conflict between these two vivid images is the pivot on which the story turns. As a mother (and a daughter), I was a bit disturbed by how tenuous our connection to our mothers and daughters can be.

I will surely think of this story as my daughter grows, and I hope I figure things out a little quicker than Cam does in the book. This was, while fictional, a true-to-life cautionary tale.
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