10 July 2017

The Uncoupling Book Club: Week 2


So I remember reading in the The Washington Post article that Lysistrata is being performed for the school play, but that the women in this town never seem to make the connection between the play and what is going on in their own personal lives.

The play is "not only an antiwar piece, but also an outright sex comedy - a sometimes supremely dirty work in which the women were urged by their leaders, Lysistrata, to abstain from having sex with men until all fighting ceased." So far the "spell" these women are under doesn't seem to be for any reason ... it's not a political statement and it certainly isn't organized. I'm interested in seeing where Wolitzer's female characters go with this ... if it's something they wish wasn't happening or if they start to embrace it.

I don't know how I feel about all the characters yet ... Dory isn't nearly as hateable as Eileen was from our last book club. So far she seems like a typical obsessive, helicopter parents ... obsessed / disturbed by her daughter's new relationship.

One part I was really interested in is when the drama teacher is explaining the play:

"Some people think of Lysistrata as an important feminist text; other people think it basically mocks women and doesn't take them seriously at all as potential agents of change."

It really reminds me of the reactions towards Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl (which I reviewed here) ... critics seemed divided on whether it was a feminist text or a set back.


I didn't really like this section, I found it kind of slow and lacking in humour. 

I did really start to hate Willa but I think I hate all teen girls. If I have only one kid ever and she turns out like Willa I'll be pissed. I like how we can all kind of tell Dory doesn't like Willa that much, even though she tries really hard. I like how even the narrater/Wolitzer kind of mocks Willa... "Would she, Willa Lang, a very undaring sophomore who behaved more like a seventh-grader in certain respects, actually take her shirt off for the new boy?"

Another point I wrote down is that the event the town holds on Friday nights called 'just chillin' actually sounds amazing and I wish London had one. I'd love board games and paninis in a community environment.

I also read the epitaph this week and I like the quote "their refusals were made in blindness, in innocence, and in bed after bed after bed..." It's hard because the women aren't really refusing anything on purpose right now and I wish they were rather than this 'spell'.

I hope more happens in section 2 and we've jumped forward to the spell having been in place for a long time...


  1. So in contrast, I actually liked this section a lot. I found the first few chapters a little boring and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the book yet, but after these chapters I’m pretty interested.

    One part I find very interesting is Dory’s consultations with the school councillor Leanne. I find Leanne really insightful, and I love hearing about her experiences with the teenagers, and the advice she gives both them and to Dory. In particular I liked her line to Dory, ‘You’ve got Robby, and you’ve both figured out how to be. How to be with just one person. So let Willa have someone too, if she wants that. She’s entitled.” I find this interesting personally because as a teenager, I felt I always had to hide any ‘romantic’ relationships I had. Now, I don’t know if my parents actually didn’t want me to have a boyfriend, or I had fabricated that, or was mostly just embarrassed. Either way, I like this line, and I think it’s important for parents to teach and model for their children healthy romantic relationships from a young age – not make them feel ashamed or as if they need to hide it. I think it was important for Dory to hear this.

    The second part I really enjoyed in this section was the budding romantic relationship of Willa and Eli. I found it hilarious when Eli wanted to see under Willa’s shirt so badly. As he said, “I just think it would be amazing, a rare occurrence, like seeing an eclipse.” I found myself laughing out loud. I find teenagers really fascinating, and hearing Eli sharing in this way makes me laugh.

    1. I didn't really think a lot about Leanne but the more I do she is interesting... I wonder if the spell hits her or if she ends up just playing therapist to it all.

      I also hate Eli he is everything I hate in males. Don't be condescending I'll show you my tits when I want to.

    2. Oh I don’t agree with you on the Eli thing. Teenagers, boys in particular at that stage are raging hormonal explosions. I found Eli’s approach to be sincere and endearing, he’s handling the array of desires rolling through his mind every second as tactfully and respectfully as he knows how. In fact, even when they do become getting physical he only pursues her chest… which I imagine wasn’t easy. Teenage boys are crazy hormonal, that’s just science, no opinion here. I think both parties in this case were respectful of each other’s boundaries and communicated their desires, concerns and limits effectively. As much as we need to teach young boys the value and importance of consensual physical engagement (and no I don’t want to spark a consent debate here), there’s value also in educating young girls about how to be confident in themselves, what they’re comfortable doing, and how to communicate that – and vice versa really. Anyways, we’ll probably have to agree to disagree with our feelings on Eli. I’m intrigued and glad to hear your opposing ideas though, I always like to reflect on other opinions than my own.

    3. I do really like the idea of how when you're a teenager you try and keep your relationships secret. I was like this and so was my sister. And I honestly don't know why, my parents never had any weird rules about dating, it just made me so uncomfortable for them to know I had a boyfriend.

    4. Alright guys I finally caught up. Sorry for being a bad book club member.

      I thought Willa and Eli's relationship was really cute in these chapters. I found Eli to be really respectful with Willa's wants/needs, and think that him always asking wasn't pestering. I think Willa is really lucky to have found a teenage boy that asks permission before doing that kind of stuff and also who she feels is easy to talk to him in person (not over msn haha) about the sexual part of their relationship. Thats really not easy to do that young and with your first boyfriend, so I think they're both really lucky to have found in each other.

      I don't find Dory to be a helicopter parent, or that she dislikes Willa. I think she's just realizing what the teenage years are truly all about with a teenage girl. I personally think I will also have a really hard time in these years when I'm a mom, and feel bad that my mom had to go through it x2. They mentioned how moms realize that their daughters aren't talking to them, and maybe start realizing how long it's been since their daughters have confided in them. I find that would be a really really sad realization for Dory to be going through. I can see her going through maybe a bit of a depression because of the disconnect she'll have with her 'mom' role for a while, especially since it is her only daughter.

      Also, I'm thankful Willa kind of came around to realize she should be grateful for what her parents provide for her, and not feel like family dinners are such a chore.

    5. forgive me for my run on sentences and poor grammar. I typed it up fast after I lost what I wrote my first try haha

    6. Ya I too often feel bad for the my mom to have to have dealt with me and my sister through teenage years. Girls are hard in a very particular way, different hard than boys. Dory is just starting to get a taste of this now, and it will be interesting to see how she copes.

  2. I also had kept my relationships sort of secret from my parents. I am a terrible liar so they quickly found out when I wouldn't stop talking about a guy, but Willa seemed to be a quiet secretive sort of girl from the beginning. And I think she wasn't going to share this sort of information with her parents because I would imagine that a girl knows when her parents don't understand her or her interests (or don't try to understand those things).
    And I got the feeling that Dory STARTED to expect this open line of communication with Willa when it wasn't really there before. Part of becoming an adult (which is what Willa thinks she's doing) is to be independent and different from the people who raised you. I think Willa is pretty typical. And Dory is pretty typical. Basically, I would expect both of these reactions. Even though these reactions are expected, I still get frustrated with both of them for being too self-centered to realize that their mother-daughter relationship should be about each other. I found a lot of reactions to their dissipating relationship are about how it the other doesn't care about/respect/trust them.