This week, Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis by Amy Ferris, is hitting the bookstores. On the back will be my blurb of recommendation:
Amy Ferris has successfully combined a rip-roaringly funny page-turner, with an unvarnished account of the personal history that formed her. This gut-wrenching look at intimate relationships will resonate with readers because of the universality of its raw emotion, clarity of vision and self-revealing courage.
Blurbs are relatively short, pithy comments on why a potential reader should pick up that particular book as opposed to the hundreds of others that are displayed besides it. It is an invitation. It also serves as a reference to those who have already taken the plunge, as they take a break from their reading to see if they are in sync with those who had the privilege of an advance look.
In my case, not only did I get to peruse the manuscript in its final form, I also witnessed its birth and evolution.
I met Amy Ferris at The Women's Media Center in 2005. We were part of the start-up team for a new venture founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan. The goal was to ensure that women were more "visible and powerful in the media." The two of us were quite vocal about how important women's cultural contributions were - a necessity to honestly reflect women's stories in our society. As we laughed at each other's jokes, which we considered über hilarious, we forged a friendship.
Many of the issues we discussed in serious moments - family, relationships, and life changes - would find their way into Marrying George Clooney. Amy's writing voice is distinctive; first person conversational. In opening herself up to reveal her deepest thoughts and feelings with an audience beyond her personal friends, Amy's insights no longer remain within a small circle. They have been amplified to enfold others, in the way a wave encompasses the shore.
Amy shares plenty, without reservation. The themes that I knew so well - her struggle with menopause, the shattering decline of her mother from dementia, her beloved husband Ken - were merged with new revelations about her past I had no knowledge of. It was a crash course in Amy. Some of it filled in the gaps that all relationships have, while adding a new depth of understanding.
There is already talk of different iterations of the text being considered, from television to Broadway (I think she should put her foot down if there is a suggestion of a musical). Marrying George Clooney could very well become the quintessential book of the season. Speaking to those women born between the years of 1946 to 1964, it is poised to become a literary version of the 1970s Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.
Amy and I have different lives. She has a husband, a home in Pennsylvania, and two cats. I have a teenage son, an apartment in New York City, and a dysfunctional dog. We both lost parents this year. She found out about her mother's death the day she was driving in to pay a condolence call for my father. We call ourselves the "Yahrzeit Twins."
Needless to say, women who pick up Amy's book will live in various geographical locations, come from diverse backgrounds, and have disparate experiences. But they will recognize themselves in Amy's efforts to come to terms with her mother's illness, the conflict of a sibling relationship, and the struggle to reconcile with the physical and emotional changes each woman faces as she ages.
Amy's audience will follow her as she tries to make sense of her past, while looking to her future. They will root for her. When they put the book down, they will feel less alone as they search for their own personal answers and resolutions.
Welcome to Amy's universe.