Alice Buckle is at a critical turning point in her life. Her kids, 15-year-old Zoe and 12-year-old Peter, no longer need her. Her husband, William, is distant and loses his job after a particularly embarrassing breakdown in front of a client. Alice starts losing interest in her job as an elementary school drama teacher. And, worst of all, she is rapidly approaching the age her mother was when she died. Among all these unresolved issues, Alice begins taking part in an online survey on Marriage in the 21st Century. Assigned the identity “Wife 22,” Alice begins answering questions posed to her by the anonymous “Researcher 101.” Alice is so relieved to have someone listen to her feelings, that the communication begins to take a dangerous turn into flirtation. Will Alice decide to turn her life upside down to pursue the invigorating, yet anonymous, online relationship?
Oh, Alice Buckle. I think this book hinges on whether or not you like Alice and can relate or sympathize with her. At first, she irritated me a little, but the more I got to know Alice and the more I began to sympathize with how lonely, powerless, and bored she felt with her life, the more I liked her. She feels like she’s facing obsolescence, as her kids and husband don’t seem to need her and as she pulls away from her job. She starts channeling her spare time into the endless bowels of the Internet, spending a lot of time on facebook and google and in emailing and chatting with Researcher 101.
As worried as I was that Alice was potentially destroying her marriage, I was also intrigued by the mysterious Researcher 101. He listened to Alice’s stories and responded to her worries. He became the confidante she lost when everyone else around her became busy with their own lives. This particular part of the story ends in a very Hollywood way, though. I think it was a bit of a cop out, but it was a happy ending and I am glad that Alice actually got one.
The story is told in the format of emails, facebook statuses/chats, and google searches, as well as more traditional narrative. This worked well and it was good to see a portrayal of the modern American family where technology and social media play such an important role.
Wife 22 was fun to read and easy to get through and I think any of us who’ve been a little lost will appreciate Alice’s journey. I think it will appeal to fans of chick lit or romantic comedies, especially those who spend chucks of their lives on the Internet!
Oh, and as a note, the survey questions are not listed with the answers that Alice gives. Instead they are in an appendix at the back of the book. I actually put a sticky tab on the appendix so I could page back and forth when I needed to. It’s probably easier to do this to a print version than the e-book, so just keep that in mind!