***This post was inspired by The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Young lawyer Sophie unwillingly takes her first divorce case with an entertaining and volatile client in this novel told mostly through letters and legal missives. Join From Left to Write on March 18 as we discuss The Divorce Papers. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.***
I'm just going to come right out and say, I loved this book. I thought it was witty and intelligent, and I thought the way it was written, in the form of emails, legal documents and letters, was clever and interesting. It was snarky and biting in places, and just plain fun to read. All of that being said, reading this book made me take another look at my marriage, and I experienced a huge wave of gratitude that I am not in the shoes of any of the characters in this book!
I did marry a divorced man, and I have two stepchildren who are now grown. While I didn't experience Captain America's divorce right alongside him, much of the wrangling back and forth over what seemed to me, the reader on the outside, to be petty things rang true, for sure. My husband did not have what anyone would call an "amicable" divorce, and I am not wholly convinced that such a thing really exists. I would like to be wrong about that, but I have never seen one in person. And truly, the ones who feel the sting of that reality the most are the kids caught in the middle. I am sure that my husband and his ex-wife were angry, hurt, resentful, and bitter; I am sure they felt the effects of the emotional hurricane that blows through a family that is falling apart. I have watched from the sidelines and tried to help pick up pieces of emotional wreckage left in a divorce's wake.
But their pain is not the worst of it. The kids suffer more, they just do. They are young and they're generally not equipped to deal with not only the implosion of their family, but the burden of being the go-between for Mom and Dad, who can no longer bear to speak to one another, the burden of the son who must be "the man of the house now." The weight of the heartbreak of the parent who didn't want to split up and leans on the kids a little too heavily; the responsibility of the daughter who has become her mom's confidant. Or the burden of the adult issues that should simply stay between the adults, like money and financial decisions.
I am not naive enough to believe that every marriage can be saved, and I know that some marriages are just not built to last. I hope that divorce is not in my future, but if it is, I want an attorney like Sophie.