To someone not in the know, Maddy and Ben's marriage looks picture perfect. They both have high-pressured, successful careers. Maddy is a social worker and Ben is a public defender. They have three wonderful children, Emma is a teenager and sometimes a handful but Gracie and Caleb, the babies, are at that fun age where they are exploring the world and discovering their personalities. Only Ben and Maddy know that their marriage has hit a rocky patch where there is a lot of yelling and eye-rolling going on. The pressures of their careers leave them both drained when they get home, but there is still dinner to cook, homework to get done and other household chores that millions of people all across the country do. Maddy wishes that Ben would help out more and be more "present" in their lives, not to mention that he loses his temper far too often. Ben wishes that Maddy would stop nagging and just do it herself. The turmoil in their marriages comes to a boiling point when a accident lands Maddy in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. The weeks long coma and subsequent rehab leaves Ben in charge of their little family in a way that he has never had to be before. Will he be able to rise to the challenge and hold everything together or will the guilt of the accident destroy everything?
In Accidents if Marriage author Randy Susan Meyers reveals something that only married people seem to know, marriage is hard. We see the struggles of their marriage from both Ben and Maddy's viewpoints. And then after the accident, we also get to hear Emma's voice as she also becomes a casualty when a lot of responsibilities are thrust upon her. Because we get to see all perspectives it is hard to take side prior to the accident, neither Ben nor Maddy behave their best and frankly been behave like an ass more than once. The author did such a great job taking us inside of Maddy's brain after the surgery. The confusion, the frustrations, the myriad of emotions that plague Maddy as she tries to navigate her new reality. I felt for Maddy, but I felt more for Emma because she was struggling and nobody noticed. Not her father, not her aunts, and not her grandparents. My heart ached for her as she struggled to hold everything together and still get to be a teenager. It even made me a bit angry that nobody noticed that she was drowning! In the end, they all survived, but their world was very, very different from where it was at the beginning of the book and it needed to be.
Bottom line, Accidents of Marriage was a powerful novel about the intricacies of marriage. It is hard, it can be brutal, it can hurt, but if you just hold on it can be the greatest thing ever. Such a good story with so many different points that cause you to reflect on your own situation. Definitely worth the read.