Stephanie's Reviews > The Post-Birthday World

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
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Aug 26, 2007

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Read in July, 2007

This was a girly book for sure, but I found it incredibly depressing.
This book goes in two parallel stories and begins and ends with the same chapter that suffices for both stories. Basically, there are two chapter 2s, 3s, 4s etc. The chapters that have a black number are the ones where she is rebellious and defiant and the white ones are the ones where she is behaving herself.
To boil this book down to just a few sentences, the main character has a boyfriend she's been with for years. This couple used to celebrate birthdays with another couple, but this couple has broken up and by a strange twist of events, our heroine and the newly single snooker player, Ramsey celebrate alone. This is where the book breaks off into two parts.
Needless to say in the black chapters our heroine is being a cheating whore, and is consequently unhappy. In the light chapters this brush with lust gave her new found love for her boyfriend, who is a jerk, so she is faithful to him and she is unhappy. This is one of those books that tells you that being in love will only make you unhappy and you will either screw someone you care about deeply over or they'll screw you (and not in the good way).
I liked the mirrored events in this book. It was very interesting to see what would happen to her with this choice. Each time an event really interested me, I couldn't wait to get to it in the next chapter to see how it had changed.
The only thing that made me groan was how Irina wrote a book very much like this one and explained what it meant. I already understood what she was trying to say. And then she won a prize for her book? Give me a break. A little James Frey kind of pump yourself up in your own book action.
Good book and interesting how it unfolds. But by the end you're ready for it to be over, and you are also ready to get your own condo and move fifty cats in and stay single for the rest of your life.
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Emma Schneider It is interesting that you thought Irina was "herself" in one of the versions and presumably not herself in the other. I understood that they were parallel versions of her life and that they both ended up at the same place. The last chapter is ambiguous not because she is "herself" but because thats where the stories join. I do agree with you about the pessimistim of the novel, however. Very depressing.

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