Friday, April 26, 2019

Book Review: The Year Marjorie Moore Learned to Live

By Sara Steven

Maybe you know a Marjorie Moore; maybe you are one. She’s dauntless, desperate and a little bit delusional. Yet her insatiable desires and misguided antics shed light on our own search for escapes—and search for self—and perhaps that is why we cheer her on wholeheartedly.

Marjorie Moore always wants more—and as a result, often feels she ends up with less. Forever searching elsewhere, she is consumed with wanting, or in her opinion, needing. Feeling trapped by her town and her family, she escapes through shopping, pill popping, and fantasizing about a possible affair with a friend from high school. Her credit card debt “forces” her to sell prescription drugs—which she secures at her receptionist job at the local hospital—to her dysfunctional friends. As her web of lies at home and work unravels, Margie struggles to become present in her own life.

Astute and provocative, Grotheim’s prose captures many of life’s dichotomies—duplicity versus authenticity, recklessness versus stability, and searching versus finding—in this moving debut novel. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Marjorie’s story is a huge reminder in finding joy in the things we have, and in the people who are in our lives. At times, that can be a really hard task. She seems to always want what’s on the other side of the proverbial fence, prompting her to choose poorly and make rash decisions, and while there are plenty of moments that are completely cringe-worthy, those moments were a total page turner. From the overspending to the drug peddling, to the attempts at rekindling something with a man she’d had a crush on in high school, she’s trying to fill a void and isn’t sure where the void had ever come from, to begin with.

Marjorie is a perfectly created mess of a character, but you can’t help but feel for her and what she’s going through. With every misguided step she takes, with every poor choice, at the root of it all is a scared girl who doesn’t feel as though she’s enough for the people she surrounds herself with. A “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, wanting to create an illusion of perfection when she is far from. An example are the descriptions on how Marjorie will see something in a magazine or on the computer, something she feels will improve her home, to make it more appealing for everyone else’s judgement, and take that image and tape it to the walls of the space that intended item is meant for, a dreamscape that allows her to escape reality, the central theme to this story. There is no want to make herself happy or to have any sort of appreciation for what she already has, but to create a life she thinks that everyone else imagines she should be living. It’s a sad situation, one that you can’t help but sink yourself into.

Even though I knew ahead of time the troubles she keeps finding herself in, I wanted to see her follow through and witness it all come to fruition. I wanted to continue to sink in, to see what would come from her fumblings and bumblings, because what Marjorie goes through is a very human experience. In every misstep, we learn a little more and come to appreciate what we, the reader, have in our own lives. That, even though the grass looks greener on the other side, it might not be, not really. And that, ultimately, it’s okay to want to live a happy, fulfilling life that starts within our own self realizations. We get to witness Marjorie's journey into finding that, making this a true five star read.

Thanks to Big Sister Productions for the book in exchange for an honest review. The Year Marjorie Moore Learned to Live can be purchased here.


Janine said...

Thanks for the review. I am curious to about this book now.

Carole said...

What a great review! It would be great if you would share this with everyone over at Books You Loved: May edition. Cheers from Carole's Chatter