Considering the limited economic advantages to marriage, the deluge of other mate options a swipe away, and the fact that almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce anyway, why do so many of us still chain ourselves to one human being for life? Heather Havrilesky illustrates the delights, aggravations, and sublime calamities of her marriage over the span of fifteen years, charting an unpredictable course from meeting her one true love to slowly learning just how much energy is required to keep that love aflame.
... her book..skates a wonderful line between being refreshingly and brutally honest about the challenges of marriage ... Foreverland is above all deeply relatable ... At one level, Foreverland fulfills a basic and important function of telling the truth to many unsuspecting future customers of marriage. I wish someone had told me these things ... Havrilesky’s portrayal of the gritty underside of marriage is honest and searing. Accepting it as it truly is allows her to find the real romance ... The truth is much more interesting.
The title and subtitle of her newest memoir-cum- wry social commentary say it all ...A frank look at just how tiresome and lackluster (but ultimately rewarding!) marriage can be ...What works: Havrilesky’s neurotic, self-deprecating sense of humor is always on display and adds a comedic twist on universal themes, such as straying and what to do about your spouse’s excessively loud bodily functions. What doesn’t: At times, this same wit can seem acerbic, or worse, whiny. Her extended rant about suburbanites seems a smidge harsh, not to mention dated, for my taste ...Nonetheless, Havrilesky’s metaphors are reason alone to pick up the book.
Foreverland,...is dedicated simply 'To Bill,' the husband of Heather Havrilesky, its author, who pays him this brief honor as a prelude to writing endlessly about his flaws ... This seemingly one-sided bargain is worth noting because it is typical of the relationship at the very center of the story, a marriage between a neurotic perfectionist and a formidably patient man with much to criticize about him ... That the author has made her particular disgusts...the basis for a general treatise on matrimony is the abiding problem of Foreverland. How well can an institution be explained by a single instance of it, and especially by one beset with problems that aren’t necessarily widely shared? Quite well, Havrilesky seems to feel, or else she wouldn’t start so many sentences with sweeping prefaces such as 'Marriage is' or 'Having a baby means' or 'The suburbs are' followed by blanket statements of what they are ... She is...amusingly sarcastic ... I know only my own marriage, like her, and I prefer to hide its nuttier moments. Marriage is — for myself and others — a secret ... 'The suburbs are a place where people go to embrace the dominant paradigm, because the dominant paradigm makes them feel safe and comfortable.' A dominant paradigm? In today’s America? As often happens in the book, Havrilesky’s big wedding being an example, the paradigm here is in the author’s head and those of her specific cohort and feels decidedly anachronistic, like a cultish tribute to traditions that allegedly dominated once ... I suppose that’s the point — the suburbs are clichéd — but so is complaining about them in this fashion. Havrilesky, to her credit, says as much, but then she barrels forward anyway ... This attraction to the categorical, this yearning for the definitive broad statement, is unfortunate in a writer whose signal gift is for mordant, close-up descriptive prose ... One of the book’s best episodes involves a chaotic last-minute cross-country road trip of too many miles and too few bathrooms ... It’s a bravado feat of family portraiture: savage, tender, claustrophobic ... But what is marriage? A paradox. This seems to be Havrilesky’s final answer, but she gives it up front and repeats it along the way ... That she feels it’s especially exemplary in an age of careening domestic improvisation is somewhat mysterious and cause for argument.