Book: The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano
Author: Donna Freitas
Genre: Literary fiction
Read if you: like stories about how difficult it is to be a woman, are child free by choice, are a person.
Good morning bookworms! Another review this week. This one was recommended to me by @thebookishglow after I talked about being Child Free by Choice on Instagram. I saved my stories about it on my page if you wanted to check it out here.
In The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano, Rose and Luke have been married for a few years. They decided before they got married that they didn’t want kids. In fact, Rose was very open about it from the beginning of there relationship. Then suddenly Luke changes his mind. He asks Rose to have a kid with him. The book is then broken up into 9 versions of Rose from that point forward. Luke stays pretty much the same in each version of their life, it’s Rose that changes and it all starts from the same point, an argument about prenatal vitamins. In each life, Rose reacts differently to the argument. Some of the lives she agrees to try and have kids, some of them she doesn’t. I really enjoyed the idea of this book. Nine alternate realities of the same relationship and all the different ways it can go. It really points out how much one decision can affect our lives so much. Each chapter is broken up into different lives but they jump around a lot. Freitas tells you at the beginning of each chapter which life you are reading about. The first 1/4 of the book I was struggling to keep track, but as I kept reading I remembered which life was which and that made it easier. Trigger warnings for this book included miscarriage, infertility and abortion.
Hook 2/2: The first chapter shows us Rose as a mom hanging out with her daughter Addie. The second chapter shows us Rose as child free by choice and angry with her husband for suddenly wanting kids. You are immediately hooked in by the fact that this is the same woman just living in two realities and how that could be any of us.
Writing 3/3: I loved the format of this book. Each chapter is broken into different lives. Sometimes it’s just one life you’re reading about, but other times the beginning of a few lives are similar so you read about all of them at once. Freitas left you hanging at the end of each chapter wanting to know more about that version of Rose’s life. Her writing was skillful in that she was able to portray 9 versions of exactly the same woman. Rose’s personality never changes, just her circumstances and how she reacts is different.
Plot 3/3: I really appreciated the advocacy for women, especially women who choose not to have children. We are well represented by Rose. But I also loved the alternate realities where Rose is a mother and full time professor. She never wavers in her love for her job as a professor no matter what version of her life we are in. And her love for Addie is so strong. She comments about going from not wanting kids to having one. About explaining her pregnancy to everyone who knew her as the child free woman. And it’s a commentary about how women are constantly questioned about our choices, are constantly made to listen to advice we didn’t ask for. You don’t have kids? Why not? You only have one kid? That’s not enough. You have four kids? That’s too many. You aren’t a stay at home mom? Your kids need you. You are a stay at home mom? You should get a job and set a good example for your kids. It feels sometimes like women can’t do anything right. This book should be read by every woman.
Characters 2/2: I loved Rose because she stood up against the unwanted advice, she was assertive with her opinions and she took no shit. In every version of her life, she was confident in herself and how she felt about the world. She was allowed to change her own mind if she wanted to and she tried not to let other people influence that. I can’t imagine how I would react if my husband suddenly decided he wanted kids at this point in our lives. But reading about Rose really made me think about it. As for the other characters, her husband Luke was hard to like. In some of the lives he was more compassionate than in others. But overall I felt like he was just a little lost, he thought he wanted one way of life and then he changed his mind. Which is entirely acceptable. Rose’s parents were super well written as well.
I would highly recommend this one. It will make you think, it will make you look at woman differently, it will teach you compassion and it will remind you that we are all doing the best we can. We are all just trying to be true to ourselves and that looks different for everyone.