Unabridged Chick

I'm Audra, a 30-something married lesbian. I love interesting heroines, gorgeous prose, place as character, and the occasional werewolf.
Unless - Carol Shields I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. Reta, a middle-aged mother of three and a writer, is facing the worst trauma of her life: her college-aged daughter Norah has dropped out of school, moved out of her apt and has begun sitting on a corner in a dodgy part of downtown Toronto wearing a sign saying 'goodness'. As Reta struggles to come to terms with her daughter's decision, the fears that something worse will happen and something unthinkable triggered this change, she also tries to write a comic sequel to her small first novel. Shields keeps this story from being too maudlin or too Oprah-book tragic with bits of humor and wry commentary: Reta is aware that she is lucky her daughter is still alive and can be found; she also examines the bigger societal issues that are challenging and oppressing her and her daughters. I really liked all the characters--found them real and sympathetic--and the story progressed without ever getting trite or forced. Additionally, Reta's ruminations on the quiet oppression of women was fascinating and subtle, carefully woven into the story. I was reminded of Cass Dalglish's novel, Nin, which would be an interesting companion read, I think. In some way, the story wasn't really about Reta's daughter's choice, but about the anti-feminist attitudes perpetuated in society. Shields--through Reta--thinks that the lack of acknowledgment of woman's role in the creative world, in some way oppresses her daughter on a subconscious level.