'Marriage' gets better, worse


Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.

Once upon a time, you promised to love for better or for worse.

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“The Perfect Marriage” by Kimberla Lawson Roby, c. 2013, Grand Central Publishing, $19.99, 192 pages.

And so, through sickness and in health, you tried your best in your marriage. Whether you were richer one day and poorer the other, you loved fiercely, honored often, and obeyed your heart.

Maybe that worked. Maybe it didn’t. Maybe you got the relationship you dreamed about, but in the new novel, “The Perfect Marriage” by Kimberla Lawson Roby, desires outside this household are stronger than the ones on the inside.

Denise Shaw had everything she’d ever wanted.

She had a very well-paying job she loved. Her adoring, handsome husband, Derrek, who’d come from a broken home with shaky roots, also had a great job with a fat salary. They had a beautiful home, fancy cars, good money saved, and a wonderful, smart daughter who was the light of their lives.

Yes, things were stressful sometimes. Life was hectic. Yes, she and Derrek used cocaine, but it was no big deal. It was just a harmless little now-and-then pick-me-up.

Derrek, on the other hand, thought they needed to stop getting high.

When he was a child, Derrek’s parents were addicted to crack and the drugs became more important than their twin sons. Derrek and his brother, Dixon, were raised by their grandparents, which was the best thing that ever happened to Derrek. Dixon, however, had become an addict like his parents and he was always asking for money.

Scan the first few pages of this book and you will know exactly what’s ahead. Even reading this review, you can probably tell. You know – but you can’t not look, which is a curious downfall for “The Perfect Marriage.”

The funny thing is that I couldn’t wait for this novel to end. It’s an uncomfortably squirmy book to read, simply because we do know what’s coming, and author Kimberla Lawson Roby doesn’t make that discomfort any easier. Her main characters seemed awfully uppity to me and I thought, without ruining the plot for you, that the actions of their “smart” daughter were pretty dumb.

On one hand, that distastefulness heightens the experience of reading this story. On the other hand, that made me race to end it.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book. It’s not great, either, but it’s worth a look-see. If you want a quick-to-read novel that’s not easy to read, grab “The Perfect Marriage” because you could do better, you could do worse.

Terri Schlichenmeyer never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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