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Release Date: May 29, 2012 (reviewed for http://www.librarything.com)

Wife 22 is fabulous! When I read the letter from Ballantine Books that arrived with the book, I thought, “WELL, those are ambitious comparisons”. Why? Because they described Wife 22 as the Bridget Jone’s Diary or I Don’t Know How She Does it, for 40-something married with kids, Facebook-saavy women.  And they’re RIGHT. I predict that this book will be THE beach read for the over-30 crowd this summer.

Alice Buckle is a part-time drama teacher at a private school, member of a “club” of mother-less women, mother to a loving son (who she suspects is gay) and  hard-to-reach high school daughter, and the wife (for 20+ years) of an advertising executive, when she is invited to participate in an online research study about marriage.

“Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners, and budgets. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories, and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpected turn.”

I totally related to the book, and I think that a lot of my friends will, too. Alice isn’t miserable, but she’s definitely in a bit of a rut and is questioning her value, to her kids, to her husband, and to her job. Personally, I hit a rut like that every two weeks!

Everything about her relationships with her family and friends rings completely true. The dialogue is spot-on, and the references are current (not a bad thing). As far as social media and technology advances, I doubt that we’ll ever actually stop talking to other human beings. Wife 22 should be very relate-able for the foreseeable future and shouldn’t suffer from being “trendy”.

The format of the book is part instant messaging, Facebook postings, and Google and part standard novel formatting. The blending of the two is at just about the perfect mix. The emails and postings are not overdone, and they complement the rest of the action and dialogue.

Interesting tidbit:

Throughout the book, Alice’s answers to the “questionnaire” are numbered, but the question isn’t listed with them. In other words, it’s like hearing one side of the conversation and proves to be both thought-provoking and funny. I was thrilled to find “Appendix – The Questionnaire” at the end of the book and spent another hour or so tracking back through, matching up questions with answers. Great idea and fun follow-up activity for book clubs!