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I Was Told It Would Get Easier


I Was Told It Would Get Easier

Readers beware: If you have a child of a certain age (specifically one who has embarked upon the college search process), you might want to hold off on reading Abbi Waxman’s new novel, I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIER, until after your offspring is safely ensconced at their higher education institution of choice. If you pick it up then, you’ll be able to laugh knowingly at the foibles of Jessica and her daughter, Emily; until then, it might hit a little too close to home.

Forty-five-year-old Jessica Burnstein is the kind of person who has always known exactly what she wants and follows through on it. Ever since the one surprise in her life --- finding herself pregnant in her late 20s --- Jessica has moved heaven and earth to keep herself and her daughter on course. She is a capable, driven corporate lawyer at a firm where she was the youngest woman ever made partner. She loves the work she does, but as a single mom, she is motivated by what she imagines will be best for her daughter’s future. And that includes signing up 16-year-old Emily for a whirlwind group tour of East Coast colleges --- one that she hopes will spark Emily’s passion for college and, with any luck, help rekindle some of the closeness she misses from when Emily was younger.

"Told in short passages that alternate perspectives between Jessica and Emily, I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIER offers a healthy dose of dramatic irony..."

As for Emily, don’t tell her mom, but she’s not even sure she wants to go to college. She has seen how Jessica's single-minded focus on career achievement has gotten in the way of her dreams, of romance, and of, well, fun. It doesn’t help that Emily is more than a little jealous of the younger lawyers her mom mentors, ambitious young women who seem more in tune with her mom’s dreams and desires than Emily is. And, as they embark on a perhaps ill-advised college tour, Emily is hiding a secret from her mom as well.

From Washington, D.C. to New York City, with several stops in between, the tour brings together some of the most ambitious students from across Greater Los Angeles. This includes Emily’s one-time archnemesis (and her equally deplorable mother), but also an intriguing boy named Will and his equally interesting dad. Jessica and Emily’s interactions with their fellow travelers --- and with one another --- might prompt both of them to shift their lives in surprising directions. But can their fragile relationship survive the process?

Told in short passages that alternate perspectives between Jessica and Emily, I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIER offers a healthy dose of dramatic irony, as readers recognize --- even if the mother-daughter pair don’t --- the places where they have things in common, the things they could tell one another but don’t. At times, their story veers perilously close to farce, but it always comes back to a place of tenderness and emotional authenticity, as Jessica and Emily learn to speak up about what each of them wants for herself --- and to honor what the other wants as well.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 19, 2020

I Was Told It Would Get Easier
by Abbi Waxman

  • Publication Date: June 16, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0451491890
  • ISBN-13: 9780451491893