“Mrs. Fletcher,” by Tom Perrotta, is a novel about finding yourself. Mrs. Fletcher, or Eve, as she prefers to be called, used to be Mrs. Fletcher, but now she is divorced, and she’s trying to figure out who she is when she isn’t Mrs. Fletcher. Brendan, her son, is about to start college, and is used to being the popular jock who can do what he wants without consequence. Their parallel stories, one about reinventing oneself in midlife, and the other about trying to decide what kind of man Brendan is going to be, make you think about how much of what and who you are is taken for granted.
When Brendan goes to college, Eve finds that she is lost without being a wife or a full time mother. Eve takes a class at the local community college about gender identity, where she learns that even her basic femininity is something she needs to look at with a critical eye. Brendan finds himself floundering in college, and finding that his brash, high school persona isn’t going to cut it in the larger world. Throw in having to confront the victim of his bullying, being publicly shamed, and an autistic half-brother, and Brendan does a lot of growing up quickly, not necessarily by choice.
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