One thing I haven't been skimping on lately? Reading. I have read lots of good books this summer (and at least one terrible one, but that's not what you want to hear about, right?).
While on vacation/Jeremy's work trip in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, I read Allison Lynn's new book The Exiles. It was a great vacation read, weighty enough but not overly depressing.
Set in the early- to mid-2000s, The Exiles is the story of a couple struggling to have it all. Nate and Emily have come to terms with the fact that they can no longer keep up with the demands of their extravagant New York City lifestyle. Nate is offered a respectable job in Rhode Island, and the couple, along with their ten-month-old son make the decision to relocate. The book details their move-in weekend, which turns somewhat disastrous when the Jeep containing many of their belongings is stolen. As Nate and Emily tough it out in their new situation, they face some hard truths about their lives and the secrets they've kept from one another.
While I basically did not like Nate or Emily very much, I did feel a bit of pity for them at times. Yes, they are in desperate need of a kick in the pants, and someone should tell them to grow up and take responsibility for their lives and the family they created. No, I cannot imagine the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" they felt among their NYC social group. I guess I felt sorry for them because they don't seem know how very good the world can be beyond that group they struggle to fit into (and then feel a bit of shame over leaving).
Most of all, though? While reading The Exiles, I felt really, really grateful that Jeremy and I have never really felt that we had anything to prove. We don't feel pressure to have prestigious careers or to have the best of everything. We are happy with our simple, comfortable lifestyle and we are content with what we have (for the most part--I'm not saying I wouldn't like to have a slightly bigger house or a pool in the backyard...but we all have a wishlist of some sort, right?). Nate and Emily managed to redeem themselves a little by the end of the book, but their story really did make me appreciate my life, and the family I have, more than ever.
Thanks to the publisher, I am able to offer a copy of The Exiles to one reader! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will end at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, and is open to U.S./Canada residents only.