COUNT THE WAYS by Joyce Maynard

Oh, I have the worst book hangover right now. I just finished Joyce Maynard’s new novel, Count The Ways, which was so good that I didn’t want it to end. It’s a family drama about a woman named Eleanor who has a terribly sad, lonely childhood and marries a man named Cam in her mid-20s. They have three kids and enjoy several blissful years of parenting and building a life together until a tragedy strikes that changes their family – and their relationship – forever. Eleanor’s life drifts further and further away from what she hoped for, and she has to learn to adapt her expectations and ultimately forgive those she loves for the ways they have disappointed or betrayed her.

Why I picked it up: I love Joyce Maynard! Count The Ways was a no-brainer for me.

Like Maynard’s earlier books, Count The Ways is sad. A lot of bad things happen, so be prepared for that going in. But you will be rewarded with a rich, detailed compelling story about a family with all of its flaws. After 400+ pages, I really felt like I knew these characters, having seen them through a few decades and many stages of life. Eleanor could be frustrating at times, sacrificing so much of herself for her family and not always telling them the truth in order to protect others. But I felt deep empathy for her nonetheless. in so many ways, life is a process of letting go, over and over, and experiencing Eleanor’s losses throughout Count The Ways was heartbreaking but also a constant reminder of what it means to be a human being. I also liked how Count The Ways tracked the cultural moments of the last several decades – Princess Diana, AIDS, #MeToo, etc.

Count The Ways was almost a five-star read for me. I have to knock off a half-star because there was a lot of repetition, especially when it came to small details or descriptions of characters, that could have been addressed with a good edit. Those were mildly annoying. Otherwise it was a stellar read. I couldn’t put it down and have been thinking about it ever since I finished it. Highly recommended.

Count The Ways was the 50th book of 2021 and satisfies the Book By An Author I Love category of the 2021 EDIWTB Reading Challenge.