Viking: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Want

In Lynn Steger Strong's Want, a deep sense of need and desire thrums beneath perfectly concise, staccato prose that tells the story of a woman caught in the frustrations (and fury) of living a life she never imagined for herself.

Elizabeth and her husband have several degrees, two children and a mountain of debt. On the brink of declaring bankruptcy, the two cobble together jobs to try to make ends meet. But keeping up appearances is starting to push Elizabeth over the edge. She leaves work to walk the city for hours on end. She texts her best friend from high school, with whom she has a fractured, nearly non-existent relationship as an adult. She contemplates asking her wealthy but eternally disappointed parents for money. Most importantly, she wants. She wants to understand the world, and her place in it. She wants to have a dream, a vision, hope. "I want to not be someone who says no all the time to every impulse," she says to herself, to no one, to anyone who will listen. "I want to not make every choice because it is my only choice."

The word "want" appears in the text more than 200 times in Strong's aptly titled novel, taking on every possible nuance and definition associated with it. The pages crackle with a sense of desire, of need, of desperation and hope and longing in this smart story of a woman who wants--no, needs--to find herself, rather than acquiescing to what others want for and from her. Want is a novel of modern womanhood that is not to be missed. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm