From the publisher:
A deeply moving novel about a woman who thought she never wanted to be a mother–and the many ways that life can surprise us
In every woman there are many stories . . .
Rose Napolitano is fighting with her husband, Luke, about prenatal vitamins. She promised she’d take them, but didn’t. He promised before they got married that he’d never want children, but now he’s changed his mind. Their marriage has come to rest on this one question: Can Rose find it in herself to become a mother? Rose is a successful professor and academic. She’s never wanted to have a child. The fight ends, and with it their marriage.
But then, Rose has a fight with Luke about the vitamins–again. This time the fight goes slightly differently, and so does Rose’s future as she grapples with whether she can indeed give up the one thing she thought she knew about herself. Can she reimagine her life in a completely new way? That reimagining plays out again and again in each of Rose’s nine lives, just as it does for each of us as we grow into adulthood. What are the consequences of our biggest choices? How would life change if we let go of our preconceived ideas of ourselves and became someone completely new? Rose Napolitano’s experience of choosing and then choosing again shows us in an utterly compelling way what it means, literally, to reinvent a life and, sometimes, become a different kind of woman than we ever imagined.
A stunning novel about love, loss, betrayal, divorce, death, a woman’s career and her identity, The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano is about finding one’s way into a future that wasn’t the future one planned, and the ways that fate intercedes when we least expect it.
After several young adult and nonfiction books (Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention,) Freitas debuts an extraordinary, multi-faceted novel for adults. Rose Napolitano is a young woman on the precipice of a life-changing decision: whether to have a child. A staunch feminist professor of sociology, Rose has never wanted children. She was explicit about that while dating her husband, Luke, and he proclaimed that he was of the same mind. But a few years into their seemingly happy marriage, his parents start exerting their influence in hopes of getting a grandchild. Luke caves, and eventually Rose agrees to start taking prenatal vitamins, and that is where the story starts. And starts again. Because this is no ordinary story of a young couple moving on to the next stage of familyhood; instead we get a glimpse into all the different lives Rose could have. Nine different lives, some more fully realized than others. Starting one morning in 2006, Rose and Luke fight over the prenatal vitamins, and the outcome of that fight changes depending on the life Rose chooses, from having a baby or not, to affairs or not, to the breakup of the marriage or not, until it ends in 2025.
Verdict: This is a serious yet fantastical look at relationships, family, and feminism told in a unique voice, and book groups should take note. The closest readalikes are Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and Replay by Ken Grimwood.
I’ve seen this compared to the movie Sliding Doors, (available on Amazon Prime, IMDB TV, & Hoopla,) so I watched it. The movie is a shallow comparison. Once again, Pamela Dorman Books comes through for me. Don’t miss it.
©Library Journal, 2021
4/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE NINE LIVES OF ROSE NAPOLITANO by Donna Freitas. Pamela Dorman Books (April 6, 2021). ISBN 978-1984880598. 384 pages.