The Unraveling of Abby Settel

Sylvia May
Turquoise Morning Press (2011)
ISBN 9781935817956

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/11) 

There are books that appear at the right time in your life, and “The Unraveling of Abby Settel” by Sylvia May certainly is one of those. The story of a middle-aged Abby Settel, who was forced to relocate due to her husband losing his job, struck quite a few chords with me.

Abby’s life in Waterloo, Canada, used to be so orderly and predictable. But then she was forced to relocate to Richmond, Virginia. She is no longer working, since her status does not allow her to do so and she feels completely lost. She was forced to leave behind everything she knew and loved -her children and growing up. Her daughter recently entered college and her son dropped out of school and is acting very weirdly. Her aging parents are not doing well, and they fail to understand why she is not there every day any longer. She has no friends. Her husband does not seem to understand that losing her home – in more than one sense of that word – has left her disoriented and miserable. Whether she likes it or not, she has to make some tough challenges. She gets involved in an all-female support group called Lost in Transition. At first she is not really willing to open up and accept the help they offer, but gradually she starts to see the merit of such support. And she reaches some decisions, which just might surprise the reader in the end...

“The Unraveling of Abby Settel” addresses a slew of issues so many middle-aged women have faced or will face at some point in time, from relocations to aging parents, partner’s loss of a job, the empty nest syndrome and the search for a new identity. Most of all, at least for me, it addresses the question of what and where is home, and how we can decide what will make us happy, at least to a point. It shows the reader the power of female friendships, the endless adaptability of women and our ability to deal with all kinds of circumstances and still find happiness in possibly quite minor things. It is a beautifully written book about overcoming challenges, reinventing and redefining oneself and finding happiness no matter where life takes us.

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