The book was The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst.
The narrator of The Nobodies Album is Octavia Frost, a successful writer, who has just finished her eighth novel, also called The Nobodies Album. Octavia's fictional version is not really a novel at all, but a revision of the endings of her previous seven books. She thinks this is ground breaking and revolutionary, but it is really just what it sounds like. Weird.
As the novel opens (the real novel, not the fictional one written about within it) Octavia is in New York to deliver the book to her publisher. In person. This is a quirk that no one finds particularly charming, not even Octavia, but, as she puts it, "My idiosyncrasies are my right, and as long as everyone does me the courtesy of not mocking them to my face, we'll all get along fine." Though I respect her attitude on this, (and I love the line), I am pretty sure I dislike this woman by page two, but as I mentioned, Parkhurst has a way of
Octavia Frost is a woman who has lost one child to tragedy and another to estrangement. A woman whose rock-star son just got arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. A writer who thinks that if she can re-write her novels, she can re-write her life. A woman trying to get the butter, back out of the cookie dough. (If you read the book, that last one will make sense.)
So, that's the set up. But, what is the book about, you ask. Well, hold on. I'm going to tell you.
The Nobodies Album is about how quickly the mother/child bond can go from latched on to disengaged to completely estranged, leaving the mother, at least, wondering, "When did this happen? Where did I go wrong?" Or, as Octavia puts it, "I don't know where the magic line might have been. That's how it is with children, or at least how it's been with mine: you have chances and chances and chances. And then you have none."
It is a cautionary tale for any mother, like me, who has ever thought, "I can't wait until this baby is weened," or "I can't wait until his father gets home," or "I can't wait for school to be back in." What are we so eager to get to, exactly? The day they leave for college? The first Christmas they would rather spend somewhere else? The day when we are sitting in an old folks home, complaining that they never call? As one of Octavia's characters puts it, "All children are lost, eventually." We have to be careful not hasten that eventuality.
If you are a mother, and you don't get at least a little bit misty eyed by this book, you are made of stone, and it is no surprise that your kids never call.
That's the heavy stuff. There is also a murder mystery (If you read it, I want to know when you figured out who dunnit.), some insightful truths about the world since the internet, and an amusing look at how easy it is to get even a bad book in print, if you are also willing to sell your soul, and write about your celebrity-criminal son. And, it's funny, in a tragicomic, real life, sort of way, which is always nice.
So, would I recommend that you read The Nobodies Album. Absolutely. And, Ms. Parkhurst isn't even my cousin or anything.