Little Earthquakes

Little Earthquakes

by Jennifer Weiner

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Jennifer Weiner's richest, wittiest, most true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate one of life's most wonderful and perilous transitions: the journay of new motherhood.

Becky is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderfull husband and baby girl, a restaurant that received a citywide acclaim — and the mother-in-law from hell. Kelly is an event planner who's struggling to balance her work and motherhood while dealing with unemployed husband who seems content to channel-surf for eight hours a day. Ayinde's basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at her most vulnerable moment, putting their new family even more in the public eye. Then, there's Lia, a Philadelphia native who has left her Hollywood career behind, along with her husband, and a tragic secret to start her life all over again.

From prenatal yoga to postbirth sex, Little Earthquakes is a frank, funny, fiercely perceptive take on the comedies and tragedies of love and marriage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743470100
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 06/28/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 370,121
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and her memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.

Hometown:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

March 28, 1970

Place of Birth:

De Ridder, Louisiana

Education:

B.A., Princeton University, 1991

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Lia

I watched her for three days, sitting by myself in the park underneath an elm tree, beside an empty fountain with a series of uneaten sandwiches in my lap and my purse at my side.

Purse. It's not a purse, really. Before, I had purses -- a fake Prada bag, a real Chanel baguette Sam had bought me for my birthday. What I have now is a gigantic, pink, floral-printed Vera Bradley bag big enough to hold a human head. If this bag were a person, it would be somebody's dowdy, gray-haired great-aunt, smelling of mothballs and butterscotch candies and insisting on pinching your cheeks. It's horrific. But nobody notices it any more than they notice me.

Once upon a time, I might have taken steps to assure that I'd be invisible: a pulled-down baseball cap or a hooded sweatshirt to help me dodge the questions that always began Hey, aren't you? and always ended with a name that wasn't mine. No, wait, don't tell me. Didn't I see you in something? Don't I know who you are?

Now, nobody stares, and nobody asks, and nobody spares me so much as a second glance. I might as well be a piece of furniture. Last week a squirrel ran over my foot.

But that's okay. That's good. I'm not here to be seen; I'm here to watch. Usually it's three o'clock or so when she shows up. I set aside my sandwich and hold the bag tightly against me like a pillow or a pet, and I stare. At first I couldn't really tell anything, but yesterday she stopped halfway past my fountain and stretched with her hands pressing the small of her back. I did that, I thought, feeling my throat close. I did that, too.

I used to love this park. Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, my father would take me into town three times each year. We'd go to the zoo in the summer, to the flower show each spring, and to Wanamaker's for the Christmas light show in December. He'd buy me a treat -- a hot chocolate, a strawberry ice cream cone -- and we'd sit on a bench, and my father would make up stories about the people walking by. A teenager with a backpack was a rock star in disguise; a blue-haired lady in an ankle-length fur coat was carrying secrets for the Russians. When I was on the plane, somewhere over Virginia, I thought about this park, and the taste of strawberries and chocolate, and my father's arm around me. I thought I'd feel safe here. I was wrong. Every time I blinked, every time I breathed, I could feel the ground beneath me wobble and slide sideways. I could feel things starting to break.

It had been this way since it happened. Nothing could make me feel safe. Not my husband, Sam, holding me, not the sad-eyed, sweet-voiced therapist he'd found, the one who'd told me, "Nothing but time will really help, and you just have to get through one day at a time."

That's what we'd been doing. Getting through the days. Eating food without tasting it, throwing out the Styrofoam containers. Brushing our teeth and making the bed. On a Wednesday afternoon, three weeks after it happened, Sam had suggested a movie. He'd laid out clothes for me to wear -- lime-green linen capris that I still couldn't quite zip, an ivory silk blouse with pink-ribbon embroidery, a pair of pink slides. When I'd picked up the diaper bag by the door, Sam had looked at me strangely, but he hadn't said anything. I'd been carrying it instead of a purse before, and I'd kept right on carrying it after, like a teddy bear or a well-loved blanket, like something I loved that I couldn't bring myself to let go.

I was fine getting into the car. Fine as we pulled into the parking garage and Sam held the door for me and walked me into the red-velvet lobby that smelled like popcorn and fake butter....

Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1) All four of the women who star in Little Earthquakes have complicated relationships with their mothers or mothers-in law. Think about how these relationships affect them and the bonds they develop with their babies. For instance, how do Ayinde's childhood memories and the current dynamics between her and her mother affect the relationship she develops with Julian? Ayinde clearly wants to raise her child differently than her parents raised her, but she also shows she wants to live up to her mother's expectations by taking Baby Success! seriously. How do you think this blend of motivations will affect Julian?
2) In Little Earthquakes, Ayinde, Kelly, and Becky each take a different approach to raising their baby. Ayinde tries Baby Success!; Kelly starts with a type A approach, keeping track of every little detail on spreadsheets and making sure Oliver has the perfect clothes and toys; and Becky goes for a more laid back, all-natural strategy. How do their approaches work out for them? Does any one approach seem to work out better than the others?
3) In the midst of their personal troubles, Becky's friends sometimes have a hard time remembering the ways in which they are fortunate. Kelly, in particular, tends to be scornful when people call her "lucky." But towards the end of the novel, Becky says, "If there was one lesson she'd learned from new motherhood, and from her friends, it was that any bit of good fortune had to be counted as lucky—and that there was always, always someone worse off than you" (398). How does motherhood help put things in perspective for Becky? What does she learn from her friends, and what can we learn by comparing the experiences of each of the four women?
4) Kelly puts a lot of pressure on herself and on Steven to maintain the kind of life she couldn't have growing up. The schedule she tries to maintain is difficult, but it's not that different from the "double shift" of work and chores that many women take on when they have kids. Still, as the article in Power magazine read, "if Kelly O'Hara Day, with her smarts and her savvy and her Ivy League degree, can't successfully integrate a career and a family, it doesn't suggest that things for other working mothers are much different — or that thirty some years after the feminists waged a so-called revolution, the workplace is likely to become a kinder, gentler place for the women who will follow in her footsteps" (441). Do you think Kelly mismanaged her life, or do you think the choices available to working women, are, as the reporter wrote, likely to put any woman in a tough spot? Can women today really have it all, or do they need to choose between having a family and having a career?
5) Both Ayinde and Kelly consider divorce at some point. When Ayinde considers leaving Richard, she thinks of the chapter on divorce in Baby Success!: "Marriage on the rocks? Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember what really matters. Remember who comes first—.Babies do better with mommy and daddy both under the same roof" (298-9). Is this good advice? Were you surprised that Ayinde patched things up with Richard? Do you think either Ayinde or Kelly should have followed through with a divorce?
6) When Lia flees to Philadelphia, she leaves her husband behind, even though they love each other very much. She says, "Every time he looked at me, he'd see what we had lost; every time I looked at him, I'd see the same thing. I couldn't stay. I couldn't stay and hurt him anymore" (5). Why does Lia assume that her presence is hurting her husband? Where does her sense of culpability and guilt come from, and how do they complicate her grief? Why does she finally reach out to Sam?
7) After Ayinde learns what's causing Julian's heart murmur, she thinks, "A hole in his heart. It was almost poetic. She'd been walking around for weeks feeling like someone had torn a hole in her own" (354). How does Julian's malady reflect the injury that Ayinde has sustained on an emotional level, and what do his prospects for health and well-being imply about hers and the well-being of her friends, who have each had their own struggles?
8) Kelly's mother, Paula, tries to convince her daughter that covetousness is a sin. She says, "You should be concerned with the state of your soul, not the state of your bank account" (48). Considering the kind of life Kelly had at home, it's not surprising that she doesn't take her mother's advice to heart. Should she have taken her more seriously? Why does Kelly strive so hard to find the perfect accessories? Is she truly covetous? Is she looking for security? Does she wish to appear affluent? Does she appreciate nice things aesthetically? Whatever her motivation is, do you think she will ever be satisfied by the acquisition of objects?
9) Like all of the other characters, Ayinde's life changes dramatically when she has Julian. However, unlike Becky and Kelly, she also finds that she can no longer continue her career, due to her new husband's celebrity. How does Ayinde's sense of self change after she marries and has her baby? Do you think she makes choices for Julian and for herself that she would not have made if she could work? How is her relationship with her husband and baby affected by her decision not to pursue her career?
10) Becky has struggled with body image throughout her life, but her pregnancy seems to draw her attention to her weight more than usual. She had hoped that pregnancy would allow her to relax a little, but instead she finds herself playing "pregnant or just fat?" How does this disappointment and Becky's struggle with body image affect her experience with pregnancy?
11) Similarly, the characters experience numerous aspects of pregnancy and childbirth that they didn't really expect, or with which they were disappointed. Together, they discuss things that surprised them like the unpleasant physical side affects of pregnancy and baby farts, and more serious unexpected problems like Lia's trouble getting Caleb to sleep. Why do you think the characters, many of whom read books like What to Expect When You're Expecting or took classes in childbirth and baby care, found themselves confused and surprised so often? How did their expectations of motherhood conflict with reality? Where do you think their expectations came from?

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Little Earthquakes 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 268 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Lia thought she had it all with Sam, but tragedy has sent her fleeing Hollywood and him. Popular Chef Becky loves her husband Andrew, but detests her interfering nasty mother-in-law. Kelly works hard so that she and her spouse can live a better life than she did as a kid, but her husband Steve lost his job and seems not to care about anything even her. Reporter Ayinde is married to a basketball superstar Richard who she though was faithful to her, but now knows he is just like every other jock, using the wrong head to break his vows................................ Lia meets the other three women, who already are friends and pregnant. She joins their circle as she sees sisters with spousal troubles. Can this quartet provide the safety net and support that each one desperately needs at a critical time in their prospective lives?......................... LITTLE EARTHQUAKES is a strong insightful character study that runs along four subplots that rotate between the women, but intersects as each tries to be there for the others. The story line hooks family drama readers from the start as the tales seem real, touching, and somewhat amusing though serious. The key cast comes across as friends and neighbors helping one another cope. Jennifer Weiner furbishes a deep look at varying relationships, the good, the bad, and the ugly............................. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why an e-book that is fifteen years old is so expensive. $12.99? Why?
Wuzzlicious on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. So much so, that i immediatly went out and bought a 2nd copy of it and handed it over to my then-pregnant friend.I think it's a very good and accurate, without being frightening, view of in-laws, pregnancy, and life after childbirth.
bibliophile26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of those books where the story unwraps from the perspective of different characters, who are connected, but each have their own story. This book was about pregnancy, childbirth, raising an infant and losing an infant to SIDS. As a breeding woman in my 20s, I was entralled.
tripicia2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good break from the more serious books I read. Laugh out loud funny, enjoyable read.
cefeick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite Jennifer Weiner book. It features the most diverse cast of characters and most realistic situations.
cindyloumn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Story of a group of women that meet in a prenatal yoga class, and their lives, husbands, and babies, and how a womanthat lost her baby comes to join tehm. Loved all their personalities and those of the husbands,mothers, and MILs. 8/19/05
sleepydumpling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm always pleasantly surprised by Jennifer Weiner's books. I go into them expecting a light read, but I get real food for thought. Wonderful characters and a realistic reflection of life.
risadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was really enjoyable. The author has characters I related too and it was well written and just kept me hooked.
Flamika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those "heart-warming" novels. You know, the ones that make good movies? It's about four women and the troubles they go through during their pregnancies. Not my type of genre, but the book was still good.
MsNick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel as though it's safe to assume that motherhood is a challenging endeavor. Having said that, I felt that this book focused on the negative aspects of becoming a new mother. The characters were one-dimensional, clichéd stereotypes and weren't particularly likable.
imscraps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Man could I relate to a lot of this story!
jdy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wasn't a big fan of this book. A quick read, but found myself bored.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(unabridged audiobook read by Johanna Parker): Though stories of multiple people all experiencing different variations on the same theme are far from uncommon, this one is reasonably fresh and enjoyable. Here we have four mothers (current, former, and soon-to-be) from four different backgrounds, each dealing with issues with her marriage and with her mother (or mother-in-law). The target audience is definitely mothers and mothers-to-be (and I think fathers could benefit from such an honest account of what their wives and girlfriends are going through), but I found myself sympathizing with the characters and wanting to know how things turned out. I especially empathized with Kelly. No, this book has not made me want children of my own, but it was a good story nonetheless. And it certainly didn't hurt that it was read by a actress with amazing subtleties in her voice. Most of the men sounded alike, but she had an amazing range in her female voices.
Sunflower6_Cris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Little Earthquakes is another great Jennifer Weiner read!True to Jennifer Weiner's writing style this is another book that you will enjoy from start to finish! A must read for Mommies but it can be enjoyed by anyone! I read bits and pieces to my husband when he would find me laughing out loud. A quick and easy read for a rainy day, even with kids at home.
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why did I buy this book at a thrift store? I don't even like chick lit! And this book reminded me why.It's well-written, covering the travails of a cluster of impending mothers and how they cope during their babies' first year. The author is indeed witty and makes some good observations. It's just... they annoyed me (Kelly especially). Their experience was nothing like my experience in becoming a mother and I had difficulty relating to some of their problems. There were so many brand names dropped in this book I wondered if the publisher was getting kickbacks. I can see why this was a bestseller and why many enjoyed it, but it's just not for me.
ktptcruisin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have yet to find a Jennifer Weiner book that I do not like...read Good in Bed then Little Earthquakes...follow it up with a dessert of In her shoes....
puckrobin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have ever known anyone who was pregnant or been pregnant yourself, this book will have you laughing in no time. A slice-of-life with a gaggle of mothers-to-be, Weiner takes aim at all of the predictable opportunities for humour in one of humankind's most awkward and beautiful condition, and finds some new crannies to examine under the light of honesty and compassion. Note: if you are pregnant this book might make you pee a little (laughing so hard, you see).
blondestranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Easy story to get into but at times too "fiction". Touching message on the importance of girlfriends and the challenges of life.
Deesirings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most important strengths of this book is that Weiner has created four distinct primary characters and has had the wisdom and foresight to introduce them individually rather than opening with a group scene in which they are all together and, within three pages or so, the reader is expected to take in the names, appearances and major character traits of each one. The way Weiner does it, it's easy to keep track of whose who throughout and care about each of the four main characters. She doesn't stop there, either. She manages to introduce the right number of secondary characters at the right time, as well. I don't think I was confused even once about who was who and what their relationships to each other were. That's saying a lot. (I'm easily confused.)Weiner writes from the third person perspective for three of these women, but from the first person for one. In this sense, Lia (Lisa) is the heroine. But I question whether that is really the case. I actually wonder about the author's choice in this respect. Not that I don't think it worked but I don't quite understand why she did it. It's also interesting that Weiner chooses the first person "I" for Lia rather than Becky. Becky, the big,tongue-in-cheek Jewish woman, is likely the character most like Weiner and most like Weiner's previous heroine's, yet in this novel, Becky, like Ayinde and Kelly, is a "she" rather than an "I". Lia, on the other hand, has had success as a Hollywood actress and her baby boy has died (traits which as far as I know, Jennifer Weiner does not share [N.B. I am far from an expert on Weiner and know nothing about her beyond her Wikipedia bio]. Though I am curious about this choice of perspective, I am not claiming that it doesn't work.If I had to identify a one-word theme for this book, I would say "understanding". We see this particularly in the closing chapters where Becky comes to greater understanding of her mother-in-law, Kelly and her husband gain greater mutual understanding of each other and Ayinde gains greater understanding of the woman with whom her husband cheated. Lia, perhaps standing a little apart (and maybe this is why she is different and written from the first person perspective) in turn seems to gain greater understanding not of someone else but simply of events, of life. And perhaps in her case the better word would be "acceptance" than understanding. In any case, we see definite growth and some sort of resolution on the case of each of the four women. Which is one of the major strengths of the novel.Is this book chick lit? Weiner is linked to the genre and I definitely felt as though "Good in Bed" qualified as chick lit, though I might not feel the same way about now that there has been such an explosion of the genre and the category seems to be epitomized by lighter reads that are primarily intended to be enjoyed during the act of reading but have little staying power.This book reminds me more of reads like Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Olivia Goldsmith's Young Wives, which I suppose are more "contemporary women's fiction" than chick lit, per se.I think some of the elements I discussed above are those that take a book beyond chick lit and into something with a little more staying power: multiple main characters who are well-defined; a third person perspective; an overriding theme; a demonstrating of true growth in the characters; a cast of secondary characters who are also rich and multi-layered. A well-done novel.
tinas37 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Totally awesome! Jennifer Weiner writes what is in a woman's mind! I really enjoyed reading this, often laughing out loud at her quips
mighteq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A must read chick book. It tells a great, and often time humorous, story about 4 very different pregnant woman and how their lives intertwine as the birth of their children nears.
seka760 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another Jennifer Weiner title, although I didn't like it as much as "Good In Bed" or "In Her Shoes." Still a good read, I wanted more about the single life and was not ready to move into motherhood just yet (both in books and real life). Enjoyable just the same though.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Weiner does a good job of weaving the stories of 4 friends all whose lives have changed by motherhood. I thought the characters were well drawn and the story was really engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely look out for another Jennifer Weiner book to read.
jlouise77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really, really liked this book. I love that Jennifer Weiner always has a chubby "heroine". It really helps me identify with the book a lot more than the typical, 22" waisted, busty maidens, lol. I identified a lot with the moms and all of their situations. This is a GREAT read for anyone who has just had/has a baby. The characters are all so lovable and fun. This was really a great read, I couldn't put it down.