In Being Anti-Social by Leigh K. Cunningham, we are introduced to Mace Evans. At almost forty-years-old, Mace Evans is somewhat dismayed when her not-so-favorite sister tells her that she is “anti-social.” Having her co-workers also view her as “unfriendly” does not help her feel better about herself. In spite of these labels, Mace does have some close friends, and is relatively content with her life. As people close to Mace are getting married, she is encouraged to follow up on her idea about writing a book about anti-wedding rituals. Some of her momentum in writing is lost as she goes through some trials with relationships and has to watch her mother’s health decline due to cancer.
In the past, as a result of her own actions, Mace’s marriage to the love of her life had failed, and she suffered further when this man passed away. Trying to get back into the swing of things with dating, Mace has some interesting experiences. One involves a younger man, who she finds out lied about his age. Another involves an age appropriate man, who lies about his career. Mace also has some regrettable moments with a married co-worker who is in desperate need of anger management skills. Actually, he sounds like he needs some skills training in other more intimate areas as well. As Mace finds herself somewhat involved with these men, she contemplates her life and the labels that others have placed on her. She also uses a lot of quotes from Oscar Wilde to help her keep her perspective.
As I followed along on Mace’s adventures and misadventures, especially with dating, I found myself totally relating to her character. Having been through the dating scene, after being divorced in my mid-thirties, I either laughed or cringed as I reminisced about my own experiences with dating men who had honesty issues. Like Mace, I dated someone who misrepresented his age by adding a few years. I also went on a blind date with someone that misrepresented his employment status. In my case, it wasn’t his job that he lied about, it was the fact that he said he had one when he didn’t.
As with Mace, I also have watched my friends get married or remarried and have children. I am fine with this, but most of my friends and family are not and seem to feel that I cannot be complete without a wedding band. I felt like Mace was going through the same thing as I am. Personally, I feel a woman can be complete without that band of gold. Mace’s mom and my mom would have gotten along fabulously.
Underlying the whole story is a strong theme about loyalty to friends and family. Most relationships do not come easily, and require some work; however, at the end, especially when you have lost someone or are watching them get ready to pass on, there is a strong realization about the importance of valuing the time that you have with the people that you care about. While there were a lot of humorous scenes in Being Anti-Social by Leigh K. Cunningham, I also felt there were a lot of underlying messages that made me reflect on my own life. The Oscar Wilde quotes really added to this. I highly recommend reading this novel, and would especially recommend it to women’s reader’s groups and women in general who are approaching their middle ages. They will find that they are not alone.