My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley
What exactly is a soulmate? And what if your soulmate turns out to be the person you divorced? These are just two of the questions My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley attempts to answer.
When we hear "soulmate," we usually think of a romantic parter that fulfills you, supports you and loves you unconditionally. There was an episode of Sex and the City where the four women are wondering where their Mr. Rights are, and Charlotte suggests that maybe their each other's soulmates because they are for each other what they're seeking from a man.
The same can be said for the characters in My Ex-Life. There's David, a gay man from San Francisco whose living situation is compromised by his ex and his ex's new lover. On the east coast there's Julie, David's ex-wife, whose own beloved home will be sold to her current husband as part of their divorce. Looking for solace, David reaches out to his ex-wife and moves in with her to help them both sort out their precarious situations. But along the way, both are able to fill the emptiness in their lives by being the support for each other that neither was able to achieve from their romantic relationships.
I normally gravitate towards nonfiction and memoir, typically about darker subjects, so My Ex-Life is a lighter than the books I'm typically drawn to. I guess it's because I feel like heavier reads are more realistic and authentic. I don't like reading sappy love tales that could never actually exist in the real world. But My Ex-Life was light, without being a fairy tale. This book could have easily slipped into the unrealistic world where David falls back in love with ex-wife Julie, and they create the perfect happy family. My Ex-Life doesn't forget that David is gay and Julie is straight, or insult them (and us) by acting like their sexuality is just something they can turn on and off. And while David and Julie do create a family of sorts, it's not forgotten that Julie's daughter has a father and is part of a nuclear family of her own.
This book was a lovely feel-good novel without slipping into the sappy and unrealistic. It's the perfect summer read, and a great break from the heavier stuff.
Ready to find your (book) soulmate? Pick up your copy of My Ex-Wife here: