All Fall Down
I couldn’t decide between three or four stars for this one, but ultimately, I decided on three because of one factor: the musicals.
I suppose that a five-year-old could have an obsession with musicals. I suppose. Especially one as annoying and precocious as Ellie (thank God they called her Ellie, and not Eloise, most of the time). And I suppose part of the reason that Weiner wove that little thread throughout the book was so that it would make sense when Allison tried to escape rehab, and used the idea of a musical to do it.
But in my opinion, that whole escape-plot thing was just so poorly executed that I could barely get through it. The scenes in which the women rewrote popular lines from musicals so that they applied to life on drugs or in rehab were just painful. Especially because I don’t watch musicals; the Sound of Music lines were the only ones that made sense to me. It doesn’t seem funny or clever when you don’t get the reference, and because I don’t watch musicals, it just seemed like some dumb poems about rehab. And there were SO MANY.
I guess the reason I take issue with it is because I believe that when you’re writing for a very wide audience, you should probably keep your references a little more broad. I don’t have a clue which musicals Weiner used, and I didn’t care enough to look it up. At some point, I was just like, “Stop with the stupid poems already.” In my opinion, it would’ve been just as easy to cut out an entire chunk of text and simply mention what was going on, and it certainly wouldn’t have hurt the plot.
Aside from that, I really did like the book. Weiner’s books are usually quick, easy reads, and this one was no exception. I appreciate the depiction of a mother trying to do everything, and struggling to do it exactly right (while failing miserably from time to time).