Published by Ballantine Books on April 8th 2008
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Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
Very pregnant and not quite married, Jenny Harris doesn’t mind that she and her live-in fiancé, Dean, accidentally started their family a little earlier than planned. But Dean is acting distant, and the night he runs out for cigarettes and doesn’t come back, he demotes himself from future husband to sperm donor. And the very next day, Jenny goes into labor.
In the months that follow, Jenny plunges into a life she never anticipated: single motherhood. At least with the sleep deprivation, sore boobs, and fits of crying (both hers and the baby’s), there’s not much time to dwell on her broken heart. And things are looking up: Jenny learns how to do everything one-handed, makes friends in a mommy group, and even gets to know a handsome, helpful neighbor. But Dean is never far from Jenny’s thoughts or, it turns out, her doorstep, and in the end she must choose between the old life she thought she wanted and the new life she’s been lucky to find.
“Beautifully penned and truly memorable . . . a heartwarming and deeply emotional debut.”–BookPage
“The Bright Side of Disaster is a treat of a book. It is so warm, so smart, so touching, so wise–and, despite its poignancy, you read the whole thing with a laugh in your throat.”–Anna Maxted, author of A Tale of Two Sisters
“Novels as polished and mature as The Bright Side of Disaster just don’t come along very often from first-time novelists or, for that matter, from those with much longer résumés. . . . This story of a youthful-but-optimistic single mom rings bittersweet and utterly authentic.”–The Dallas Morning News
“A funny and poignant novel about love, motherhood and men . . . elevates the subject matter beyond the realm of ‘mommy lit.’ ”–Houston Chronicle
Don’t miss the reading group guide in the back of the book.
I’m working on my first novel. I’ve been thinking about categories, and audience and all that stuff. I started going through Amazon looking at the other books in categories I’m considering, and thought I’d read some of them, to see how they were similar/dissimilar to the tone/content of my novel.
As always, when it comes to books, I’ve managed to create a sizeable list. I decided to start with Katherine Center’s The Bright Side of Disaster. I’m glad I did.
This is Katherine’s debut novel (she’s written quite a few more and recently released Happiness for Beginners which I’m very much looking forward to reading after finishing this one.
So… The Bright Side of Disaster is kind of a girl meets boy, boy is a jerk, boy leaves, girl figures it all out after a strange and crazy journey kind of book. It could have been a book just like any other book, but it wasn’t. You see Jenny Harris, the main character, has her baby the day after the jerk boy leaves her. She is catapulted into motherhood alone, and with her own needs, wants, desires, beliefs and expectations of birth and motherhood.
I read reviews that weren’t all that positive about this book, but I identified so much with Jenny, that I absolutely loved it. It felt like someone had filmed my birthing experience, as well as the first year of my kiddo’s life and written a book about it. It made me feel a lot better about my experience and mothering itself (even though I’m almost 9 years into the process). The writing was so clean, and crisp. It was so easy to get lost in feeling what Jenny was feeling.
I also loved the characters. Jenny, to me, was so easy to relate to… I felt 99% of what she was feeling… and my husband didn’t leave me the day before I gave birth. I also loved how well written the male characters were. Dean was so easy to hate, but you could also completely GET why she was still with him, and why things went down the way they did when he shows back up on her doorstep 8 months later. The handsome, helpful neighbor… the guy we all dream of meeting. He could have maybe had a couple flaws, as he seemed a little too dreamy, but it was nice to kind of let yourself go and dream along with the “what if”.
All in all this was a fun book to read. It took me back to the days I spent birthing, trying to get people to follow my birth plan, right down to a less than ideal situation with Dr. Fred and to the first few days of being a mother. The fear of being left alone with a little human being was so real, it took me back to the first day I was alone with Hanna.
If you had a perfect birth, with a perfect husband, or maybe you had a scheduled c-section this book may not ring as true for you… but for me it was a perfect introduction to Katherine Center and her library of work. I look forward to reading the next one!