by Melanie Gideon
Maybe it was those extra five pounds I'd gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.
But when the anonymous online study called "Marriage in the 21st Century" showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn't long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).
And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.
7. Sometimes I tell him he's snoring when he's not snoring so he'll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.
61. Chet Baker on the tape player. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man's children.
67. To not want what you don't have. What you can't have. What you shouldn't have.
32. That if we weren't careful, it was possible to forget one another.
Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor's appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.
But these days, I'm also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I have to make a decision - one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I'm too busy answering questions.
As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.
Alice Buckle's life didn't quite turn out the way she planned. She has a handsome husband, two beautiful children, and a dog. That's what every woman wants right? Except her husband's charm has lost its shine, her daughter is annoyed at the very thought of her, and she is 99% sure that her son is gay (but she's totally cool with that). When Alice receives an email invitation to take part in a marriage study, she all but jumps at the chance, getting way more than she could have ever bargained for.
Wife 22 snuck up on me. Don't get me wrong, I was intrigued from the beginning, but it was much more layered than I expected, as an added bonus it had a twist! I found Alice Buckle downright annoying. I was constantly talking to her out loud (since this was an audiobook there was a part of me that half expected her to respond, didn't happen). Even though she got on my very last nerve, I found her completely relatable. It is so very easy to get lost in your own life, tied up in responsibility, and simply become complacent, happens all the time. By the time you realize where you've landed, you're in the middle of your life. That's exactly what happened to dear Alice.
Whether you are married, thinking about it, or perpetually single, you will relate to Wife 22. There is a little Alice Buckle in all of us.
I give this book:
Wife 22 is available on Amazon in hardback, audio, and Kindle editions. You can also find it at Barnes and Noble and other fine book sellers.
I borrowed the audio version of this book from the County of Los Angeles Public Library. All views and opinions expressed are my own.
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