Genre

General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Audience

Ages 16 and Up

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2022

Themes

Motherhood, Anxiety, Depression, Friendship, Marriage

 

Reviewed by

M.S. Ocampo

Cara Nielsen is a mother taking on the big city alongside her husband. This contemporary novel follows Cara as she struggles to raise two toddlers while balancing her anxiety and depression.

This novel reminds me of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once without the multiverse factor. Cara is juggling depression, discontent, anxiety, and paranoia over worst-case scenarios regarding her children. Cara struggles to connect with her own children without anyone else helping her out. Cara is isolated from any sort of extended family, and her husband works as the sole breadwinner. As much as she loves her kids, being a mother isn’t something she instantly learns how to cope with. At the same time, she has friends, goes to therapy, and has a life outside of being a housewife and a mother. She loves going to the movies, for example. Movies are a sort of escapism for her, but they sell her a lie, glamorizing life in the big city.

Cara is trying to figure out what being a mother and what being herself mean. She used to be a working woman, a journalist and a movie reviewer. With two kids, however, she has to balance her new life while trying to keep elements of the life she used to have. Cara says that motherhood adds a whole new dimension to her understanding of life.

The contemplative nature of the book makes the events seem very slice-of-life at first–until Cara gets caught up in a whirlwind of crisis after crisis involving her circle of friends. Cara stands in the eye of a metaphorical hurricane, while her friends deal with their marriages falling apart and other personal issues, all while Cara is trying to keep her own life together.

The Catholic themes in this novel are quite prominent. Cara goes to church along with her family, and there are scenes where a priest gives a sermon that ties into the overall themes of the novel. Cara also develops a devotion to Saint Augustine and turns to his wisdom quite often. Cara’s faith gives her some sense of stability and helps her when she gets caught in the hurricane.

I recommend this novel for readers who like a slow-burn drama and enjoy character studies. Catholic mothers who are raising young children will particularly enjoy this read, even if they don’t live in a big city, because the setting is quite immersive.

The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers

Experience Christ through the eyes of Jotham, his disabled disciple.

Most Highly Favored Daughter by Janice Palko

Her perfect life hides her city’s darkest secrets. Can Cara face the light of truth and come to understand real love?

Big in Heaven by Fr. Stephen Siniari

In this inner-city Orthodox parish, there are no easy answers—only the transformative power of God’s love.

My Son, The Father by Jim Moore

The story of a young priest through the eyes of his father and friends.

Everything Old: Love in Anadauk Book 1 by Amanda Hamm

Two youth group leaders rekindle their friendship and find love with each other along the way.

A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers

Stories from the front lines of the Church’s mission to protect Brazilians farmers from theft and greed.

Why Reading Fiction Made Me a Better Catholic

How reading fiction became a crucial step in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

Books for Lent

Deepen your Lenten reflection with these stories of repentance and forgiveness

Revelation by Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor takes us into the mental experience of one of those people Jesus condemned.

Anno Domini 2064 by Jacob Clearfield

Mark is happy serving the Party of the Golden Republic, but when he discovers God, he risks losing everything.

Rachel’s Contrition by Michelle Buckman

After the loss of her child, Rachel goes insane but she must pull her mind back together to solve a murder and save her own life.

The River of Life by Diana González Tabbaa

The death of little Anthony’s father shakes his faith until a heaven-sent friend helps him find his way back to God.

Earthquake Weather by Kevin Rush

The mist that settles over San Francisco hides the ugly parts of her world. Can Kristine find the courage to see with unclouded eyes?

The Grace Crasher by Mara Faro

The Grace Crasher is the ecumenical romantic dramedy that everyone who has ever had family members in split churches needs to read.

Ghosts of the Faithful by Kaye Park Hinckley

The O’Murphy family gets help from beyond the grave as they deal with long held secrets.

Relic of His Heart by Jane Lebak

An atheist midwife has no idea what she’s in for when she makes a deal with an angel.

Best of 2020

Yes some good things DID happen this year- Catholic creators have not let turmoil stop their mission.

Zeal & Zest: Where to Begin with Hillaire Belloc

Belloc was known as a Catholic polemicist with a vicious talent for skewering his opponents. Anyone struggling to persevere as a Christian in the fields of journalism or media should read him. His children’s books have an acerbic humor that will appeal to bored veterans of political correctness, especially teens.

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

The Boy Who Knew (Friends in High Places: Carlo Acutis) by Corinna Turner

Faced with his death, a fifteen-year-old learns how to live through the wisdom of Blessed Carlo Acutis.