Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
I Was Told It Would Get Easier is Abbi Waxman’s latest novel, and while I recommend it to fans of her books, be aware that it is not as great as The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. I Was Told It Would Get Easier is told in the alternating perspectives of Jessica Burnstein and her daughter Emily. Jessica is a lawyer in her mid-forties, and she is a single mom to sixteen-year-old Emily. Jessica and Emily travel from LA to the East coast for an expensive, upscale college tour. As they travel with their group of overachieving, wealthy students and their (mostly) pushy, competitive parents, Jessica and Emily experience the universal push-pull relationship that comes with parenting teens.
We learn that Jessica, who is a high-profile attorney and struggling in a misogynistic corporate atmosphere, feels torn between working full time and spending time with Emily. Emily is caught in the teenage battle of wanting to spend more time with her mom while simultaneously craving independence and autonomy. Emily is also navigating a tricky situation at school, which comes to a head while she and Jessica are on the college tour. Predictably, Jessica bonds with one of the other parents on the trip and gets some validation from their friendship, while Emily befriends some of the students on the trip and is able to reach some conclusions about her future with their support.
The book is relatable and easy-to-read, if it does feel a little formulaic and predictable. Waxman does a great job expressing Jessica and Emily’s mother-daughter relationship, in which neither feels appreciated nor understood by the other. Emily’s steadfast pursuit of being true to herself and deciding what she wants to do with her future is enlightening at a time when high school graduates are often considering if college is the correct path for them, considering the financial burden and other options available. The arc of drama and tension falls a bit flat, but does offer a few unexpected revelations. Overall, I enjoyed reading it and definitely recommend it.