Pg. 261 “It was so horrible that it was almost fun. I once heard someone talk about ‘the second kind of fun.’ Something so terrible that it’s fun.”
Told in sections, this book explores the disappearance of a wealthy mother through the perspectives of her best friend and husband. The novel begins by thrusting the reader into the midst of conflict and explaining the reason behind the chaos along the way.
Have you ever wanted to read a book with no relatable, enjoyable, or otherwise redeemable characters? Then maybe A Simple Favor is the book for you. At first, the reader is meant to sympathize with the desperate and frazzled Stephanie as she tries to solve the mystery of her friend Emily’s sudden departure. However, as tidbits of Stephanie’s past are revealed, she becomes less and less likeable and more and more uncomfortable to read. It feels like just reading her ugly deeds are in and of themselves immoral.
While Emily is meant to be the perfect woman, she is far from it. She is conniving and egotistical with her undeniable, yet supposedly funny or quirky, madness written onto every page. She claims to care only for her son Nicky, but any actual evidence of caring for him outside of her internal monologue is scarce. Sure, she provides for him, praises him, and wants only to spend time with him, but we, the readers, have no real image of the mother and son duo who would do anything for each other.
The love interest Sean is a piece of the puzzle that never quite fits anywhere. He is as bland as a crumpet and as unnecessary as the explicit sex scenes scattered throughout the novel. Much like Emily and Nicky’s relationship, Sean is one-dimensional. Interdependent and arguably parasitic, Sean lives in the shadows and sows the rewards of the victor. He gravitates towards whomever is in the spotlight, whomever will meet his needs and, of course, make his life easier.
The theme of A Simple Favor was, much like the main character, nowhere to be found. “Trust no one,” “motherly love is complicated” and “everyone has secrets” are the only real messages between the lines.
Every twist and turn was predictable and cheap. Secrets and lies make this novel what it is, and “what it is” is nothing worthwhile. This was such a tedious read that it will leave you wondering why you even bothered reading all 304 pages.
Pg. 262 “the weird thing was: it felt so liberating! As if I were being absolved for all the bad things I’d done by something so much worse.”