For years, Tom Perrotta has expertly captured the sensibilities of suburban America in the way that no other author can. From Election [yes, the movie that introduced Reese and Ryan started as a Perrotta book] to The Leftovers [okay, so the whole rapture part isn’t necessarily a daily occurrence in suburbia, but the backdrop upon which it occurs couldn’t be more realistic], Perrotta knows what he’s doing. And, given that he hasn’t released a book since his fantastic short story collection Nine Inches in 2013, when I found out about Mrs. Fletcher, I was over the moon, and I am thrilled to report that it did not disappoint.
In a town “twenty minutes outside of Boston,” as they all are, divorced single mother Eve Fletcher is getting her son, the handsome, athletic Brendan, ready for college. He has chosen a party school in lieu of the higher tier institutions that offered him athletic scholarships because he has no interest in working hard. Before Eve can so much as utter a tearful goodbye, Brendan has settled into a video game with his similarly lackadaisical new roommate, Zack. She heads home and settles into a solo dinner, readying herself for another week at her job as Director of the town’s Senior Center. But, that night, when she receives an anonymous text that says “You’re a MILF,” the research she does into the meaning behind the phrase leads her to a new habit that ultimately alters her entire suburban existence.
Mrs. Fletcher is Perrotta at his best: a hilarious page-turner, melancholy at the right moments, that, in the vein of Maria Semple, might be making you laugh so hard because it’s funny, but also maybe because it reminds you your own life isn’t so sad after all. I don’t have many notes for Perrotta-he gives every character, even lax bro Brendan, a realistic and relatable depth, and even the ridiculous parts seem somehow, in some universe, feasible, because of the way in which Perrotta spins them. An absolute delight to read, but also, maybe not at Grandma’s.