After the emotional rollercoaster that was A Little Life, I felt a humorous palate cleanser was in perfect order. I was in Venice, California, and after numerous Google searches, a disheartening conversation with a salesgirl in Malibu that went something like, “bookstores? Umm, I don’t know, California doesn’t have that many. We have a book on crystals over there!” [I kid you not], I finally found Small World Books, a glorious blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bookshop tucked behind a restaurant on the Venice boardwalk. I spent nearly an hour perusing the shelves, feeling heavy with the importance of choosing a book that would carry me through a road trip from California to New York City. I knew I wanted something funny and readable, so when I noticed Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different displayed on the Notable Fiction table, I grabbed it and didn’t look back.
I read Where’d you Go, Bernadette? in 2013, and, while I enjoyed it, I got a little tired of the e-pistolary format. Today Will Be Different was a regular novel, and I was instantly confident I’d prefer it to Semple’s previous work.
Today will Be Different follows a (horrible) day in the life of Eleanor Flood, a Seattle transplant by way of New York, her son, Timby, and her husband, Joe. Eleanor starts the day repeating positive mantras, determined not to sweat the small stuff. As you can imagine, everything that could possibly go wrong, does—and while she doesn’t exactly handle it with grace, she tackles every hurdle with humor. Some of the humor is intentional on Eleanor’s behalf, other bits are the result of her quirks and neuroses—which she likely does not find funny at all. These quirks lend our extremely selfish (again, in a funny way) protagonist a bit of human charm. Whether or you like Eleanor, you’ll undoubtedly relate to her, and find solace in the fact that many of her meltdowns might mirror those you come close to experiencing every day. An excellent summer beach read choice.