The saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they never mention judging it by its title. I was guilty of doing just that for My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley, and I was not disappointed. This book follows the lives of Julie Fisk, her daughter Mandy, and David Hedges.
Julie, on the verge of losing her house due to her second divorce, turns it into a bed and breakfast in hopes she’ll be able to buy it from her ex. She struggles to make it a successful business as Mandy struggles with her future after high school. Mandy is confused about which college she’d like to attend, so she spends the summer exploring career options, one of which leads her down a dangerous road. David specializes in helping wealthy teens in San Francisco get into the schools of their (or their parents’) dreams by creating strong applications and essays.
When David receives a call from Julie asking him to help Mandy with her college applications, he learns that it’s not only Mandy, but Julie, who needs help.
McCauley paints a vivid portrait of each of the characters, which helps the reader care about them. Even though I felt like the climax of the action fell short, the build-up to it was well-written, and the book was a great read overall.
Nancy S. Collett is a library services assistant with at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury. She lives in Woodbury with her husband and her dog, Packer, and spends her free time illustrating or going on hikes with her family.