I’ve been sitting on this fabulously fun title (which pubs today) for a while because I was afraid of even remotely jinxing a recent wedding (and what a gorgeous event it was for the perfectly matched couple, the young groom being one of my favorite former students who is all grown up already!). Since that forever-love-fest is finally an everlastingly done deal, we can now talk divorce … albeit someone else’s, of course!
Lying in bed too depressed to get up, wedding photographer (!) Jo Hudson stares at a photograph of her own self as a happy bride … “or is that sadness in my eyes?” she questions. After seven years, her marriage is irrevocably over: a phone message announces that Candy has “like been like f*cking your husband for five years now and we would very much like to get on with our lives so we can like be a family and raise our son Little John?”
Although Jo doesn’t miss the cheat – “[i]n fact, if I weren’t so depressed, I’d be dancing on the ceiling” – she’s paralyzed by “too many questions” about why she didn’t know, why she married in the first place. Jo’s got the “blame ‘the mother’”-cliché down pat, but pushy Mommy surely shares a wee bit of the blame with Jo’s “happy Barbie Bride Lamp,” the epitome of the perfect, virginal bride Jo aspired to become ever since she was a little girl. [Ironically, graphic mega-creator Barbara Slate has written more than 60 Barbie comics!]
Jo’s dearest friends rally to support her. Following their earnest advice, she tries being shrunk by various therapists, considers bed-hopping, chases cockroaches, but nothing quite works. Too busy paying attention to everyone else, she finally realizes she hasn’t been hearing “My Own Voice.” Indeed, good things happen to those who listen! Her path back to enlightened independence isn’t easy – especially with a nagging mother who never seems to run out of energy on your behalf, ahem. But Jo succeeds not only for herself, but also for her many brides who step out of focus to speak to Jo beyond their printed images and share some of their own less-than-happily-ever-afters …
Jo begins the book wallowing, but you can’t help but be persuaded that Slate’s bold, colorful, broad strokes – Jo’s electric hair, her matching glossy fingernails, her oversized emerald doe-eyes, her perfectly gleaming pink lip gloss – will soon enough infuse our heroine with inspired motivation. As for Jo’s memories, as disturbing as some might be, Slate’s use of simplified line drawings mostly in gray tones seems to be assurance that the past is definitely past … and real life now happens in technicolor. Good advice for sure, whether married or mistaken: we can all strive to experience life every moment, brilliantly, boldly … and hopefully for better than for worse!