Friday , March 1 2024
The Sunshine When She's Gone is a well-written but ultimately disappointing look at a relationship strained by new parenthood.

Book Review: The Sunshine When She’s Gone by Thea Goodman

The Sunshine When She’s Gone takes an honest look at the problems new parents face: exhaustion, lack of sexual libido, sleep deprivation, love, fear, and missing the old freedom and feeling guilty for it. Unfortunately, this reviewer found the characters extremely shallow and unsympathetic.

Can you feel sorry for well-to-do wives who have a nanny, concern themselves with $1100 purses and farm-raised duck eggs, and a husband who can afford to just take off to The Bahamas on a whim, and yet both feel so sorry for themselves that, instead of trying to work through their problems like normal people who also have to worry about rent and bills and daycare, they choose to do dangerous and morally ambiguous things? Then you may like this book much more than I do.

John and Veronica are New Yorkers with a five-month-old baby, Clara, who they adore. However, Veronica had a difficult delivery and had to have an emergency hysterectomy, a fact that she obsesses over and which adds to all of the other issues of new motherhood. One day, John, wanting time with the baby alone and feeling that Veronica really needs to sleep, takes the baby out for a walk and suddenly decides to hop a plane to The Bahamas for the weekend, with only a few diapers and bottles of the special formula the baby drinks.

Once in The Bahamas, he drives around in cars with the baby with no car seat and no seat belts. He feeds her cow’s milk, which makes her sick. He does other reckless and dangerous things.

Veronica, in the meantime, believes he is at his mother’s and proceeds to do her own foolish things.

The story is told from alternate points of view, first John’s and then Veronica’s. There is a great deal of suspense and you won’t be able to guess the ending. Goodman is a very competent writer. The book has gotten a lot of critical praise. But it is certainly not inspiring and the only character I had sympathy for was the baby. It will probably please a young, affluent demographic but I found it barely readable, John and Veronica wew both so shallow, weak, and unlikeable to me, and therefore I would not personally recommend it.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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