I’m traveling on the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge, a summer-long book trip that will send me to various destinations in the 18 books on the reading challenge. Today’s book review brings us to the streets of New York City, the site of The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall.
Katherine Whitney has the perfect job, an amazing husband, two loveable daughters and just released a hit book. Unbeknownst to everyone, Katherine’s life is actually falling a part, and it is her assistant, Lucy Cooper, holding it together. But when Katherine does the unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must determine if the stress on her life is worth pleasing her boss.
My Book Review:
I thought the woven structure of the interdependent, parallel lives of boss Katherine Whitney and assistant Lucy Cooper brought a richness to the story as I watched them twist and turn, folding over one another until balance in both characters’ lives was tied-up in knots.
For the reader, The Balance Project dishes up equal portions of triumph and failure, loyalty and betrayal as Lucy (“Coop”) struggles for work/life balance while supporting Katherine during Katherine’s post- book release ascension as the darling of balance in the public eye. The younger Lucy struggles in her relationship with longtime boyfriend Nick (delivering a tense romantic through-line for readers) while she tries to navigate a difficult job and a job market that hasn’t delivered all that Lucy’d hoped for (a sub-plot that captures the frustrations of the newly employed in a way that will resonate with twenty-something readers). But Lucy’s not the only one in need of balance. As the over-scheduled wife and mother Katherine preaches, her pulpit weakens and the soapbox on which she stands grows unsteady. Katherine’s family life becomes strained and so does her public persona. With a growing media empire at stake, both Katherine and Lucy have skin in the game.
Appropriately so, the narrative read like a game of Jenga, each player removing one block at a time from the tower, to balance it on top. You wonder which player will win, but as each player removes a block, the weight of the tower shifts beneath both of them, until at last . . . well . . . you’ll have to read the book to see how each player balances the game.
A great read filled with lots of celebrity, glamour, secrets and lies; plenty of “yup!”, “ah ha!” and “ha!” moments with words that move swiftly and keep the pages turning, I closed the book thinking what a great read this will be for book clubs. What a thrill it was to mull over the questions in the Book Club Discussion Guide at the back of the book and to learn more about author Susie Orman Schnall’s Balance Project, an interview series she hosts on her website, a series that inspired the writing of the book. www.susieschnall.com
Read The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall
Originally from Los Angeles, Susie Orman Schnall graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Schnall has written for national and local publications about parenting and health. She lives in New York with her husband and their three young boys. ON GRACE is her debut novel.
Find out how it all began: READ 5th Annual BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge and My Travels Have Begun!
1. The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen
2. The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek
3. Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff
4. The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall
5 . Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
6. Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
7. Pieces by Maria Kostaki
8. Summer Secrets by Jane Green
9. It’s You by Jane Porter
10. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
11. Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips
12. The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop
13. The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri
14. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
15. Anchored by Brigitte Quinn
16. Satisfaction by Andee Reilly
17. A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
18. Star Craving Mad by Elise Miller
Thank you, BookSparks!