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Rebecca Land Soodak’s first novel, Henny on the Couch, takes readers through the stressful, high-strung life of Kara as she tries to be both a mother of three, an accepting wife, and a career woman. The only problem is that her ex-lover, who inspired her to paint when she was in college has an exhibition coming up in New York, just blocks away from her children’s salon, Little Scissors.
Still drawn to Oliver Bellow’s passionate abstract paintings, Kara finds herself longing to see him again, but torn about the feelings it would arise in her husband. Seeing his art brings flashbacks from their desperate relationship and the overwhelming longing to paint that she has tried to quell over the years in favor of being the perfect mom.
When she runs into the author Morgan at one of her children’s school activities, the two become firm friends. Each lean on one another and complain about their everyday lives, but Morgan also reveals a secret to Kara that sends her mind reeling. This is only one of a variety of controversial problems that start to come up in Kara’s already thinly stretched life.
From a husband whose firm is spreading to the Asian continent, to the decision to medicate her young daughter with learning disabilities, to a business partner who wants to relocate and expand, Kara has to deal with it all, seemingly on her own. Add the desire to be your own person and live your dreams to the mix and you have one emotionally packed novel that many modern day women may be able to relate to.
Passion, career, or family? Soodak explores the world of a few individuals that must either learn to balance them all or choose one over another. In the midst of what would seem to be a depressing tale of struggle are moments of humor that will be a sigh of relief for readers.
Just when circumstances seem to come to a breaking point, the unexpected, and often humorous, shenanigans of children force their way in to make readers laugh despite their emotions being tugged along on Kara’s stressful journey.
This is not a good novel to read if you are looking for a pick-me-up, but the emotions it evokes are well worth a read. Even if you don’t have children you will find yourself leaping at the anxiety of Kara’s little girl, Henny, as she runs straight into a busy New York street, or feel your heart being wrenched when she tells her mother a classmate called her a retard because of her learning disability.
Henny on the Couch is a must-read for any female thinking about following their career dreams and balancing a family in today’s fast-paced and highly stressful world.
Overall rating: 4/5