Gillian vs Jillian

I’m up late again. Back from yet another midnight drop-off at LAX and over-caffeinated as per my custom. My third midnight cruise to LAX in the last month. My theory: airplane tix are so expensive these days that we can only bear to pay for the red-eye flights. It’s like we’re all growing old together, reminiscing about cross-country flights for $200 and the good old days when you could check two bags for free.

Bella and her friend managed to leave for two weeks in Florida with no checked baggage. I was impressed. But I did laugh when Bella’s bag got stuck in the carry-on-bag-measurer (“Your carry-on should fit here”). I laughed harder when I learned that Bella put the bag in HERSELF to make sure it was the right size. What a sweet kid.

The house already feels emptier. It is perhaps because we’ve been spending a lot of time together this last week trying to get to the bottom of her slightly-swollen-optic-nerve. So far, all tests have come back normal; so as the doc says, he’s ruled out the bad guys (cancer, tumor, diabetes, glaucoma), but he wants to continue to monitor her. The eye ultrasound was a strange one. She got goop all over her eyelid while the doc moved the sensor around and we morbidly watched the inside of her eye on the computer monitor. Just so you know, Bella has no symptoms and doesn’t believe anything is wrong with her at all. I’m tending to believe the same, but a mom’s got to be careful.

And worse than a house emptier by a fourth, I’m between books. I hate that feeling. It’s worse than the end of a moving sidewalk (I’m aware that I overuse that analogy).

Two summer reads: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff.

Gone Girl is funny and sharp. I started it thinking that it was going to be a psychological wrestle between husband and wife at the end of a sour marriage; and Flynn does have an excellent eye for that irritation we can feel only towards a spouse, but this book is definitely a thriller, and I’m not that into thrillers or investigative detective books. The writing is strong, but I feel that Flynn went a mite over the edge in her portrayal of her characters. They were so believable (not likable though) to start. The structure of the book is clever too, alternating between husband and wife’s perspective, but each voice starting at a different point in the timeline, and then catching up and overlapping eachother. It’s worth picking up for a summer read.

I Couldn’t Love You More is ALSO funny and sharp. Actually funnier and sharper, because the scathing wit is often between three sisters who have grown up with a single writer mom. It’s a house full of unbit tongues. Rare that I have ever seen sisters portrayed that reminded me and my own sister. There is tons of psychological wrestling between everybody, which is how I see life too. There are many more characters in this novel – and I appreciated Medoff’s attention to their relationships: step-children, ex-wives, mothers, boyfriends, kids, lovers. I could feel the love buoying them all up, but also the pain of holding a blended family together and the difficulty of making it through the day. Medoff is a serious crafter of words and her dialogue is definitely going to make a good movie. There is one silly distraction in the overly-optimistic corporate memos sprinkled throughout that the protagonist writes for work – those could be dropped – but all-in-all, Medoff comes out ahead in Gillian vs Jillian.

One clip:

“You want to know what I wonder, Eliot?”

I brace myself. expecting her to say something else about loving me or something memorable about our relationship, I will myself not to cry again. “What?”

“Why is it when Dolores sends you e-mails, she writes, ‘I love you,’ but when she sends me e-mails, she doesn’t write anything? Sometimes she writes, ‘Love ya’ But don’t you think that if she really loved me, she’d write ‘I love you’ every time?”

I blink, waiting for more, but that’s it. This isn’t a joke – my sister is dead serious.

“I don’t think it means anything, Sylvia. you know she loves you. I love you, too” I pause. “But since when have you been reading my emails?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve been reading your e-mails for years. Your stupid password is ELIOTG.” Then she sighs. “God, I feel so much better. That ‘Love ya’ thing has been bothering me forever.”

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