G. Bianco, 2019
Heidi Pitlor’s new novel, Impersonation, follows a woman as she juggles work, caring for her son, and caring for herself as well. Set to be released on August 18th, this “timely, insightful, and bitingly funny story of ambition, motherhood, and class” takes a look at what life in America is like for one woman at this moment in time.
Allie Lang is a professional ghostwriter and a perpetually broke single mother to a young boy. Years of navigating her own and America’s cultural definitions of motherhood have left her a lapsed idealist. Lana Breban is a powerhouse lawyer, economist, and advocate for women’s rights with designs on elected office. She also has a son. Lana and her staff have decided she needs help softening her public image and that a memoir about her life as a mother will help. When Allie lands the job as Lana’s ghostwriter, it seems as if things will finally go Allie’s way. At last, she thinks, there will be enough money not just to pay her bills but to actually buy a house. After years of working as a ghostwriter for other celebrities, Allie believes she knows the drill: she has learned how to inhabit the lives of others and tell their stories better than they can. But this time, everything becomes more complicated. Allie’s childcare arrangements unravel; she falls behind on her rent; her subject, Lana, is better at critiquing than actually providing material; and Allie’s boyfriend decides to go on a road trip toward self-discovery. But as a writer for hire, Allie has gotten too used to being accommodating. At what point will she speak up for all that she deserves?
I loved the concept of a ghostwriter being the focus on the novel since it’s a profession not many people know about. However, what seemed to be a story of two women facing the same struggles actually is just a story about one woman trying to be the best mother she can be. I also was hoping for more interactions between Lana and Allie. Instead, all of the focus was on Allie and Lana is just seen through her eyes and it seemed borderline obsessive at times.
The narration quickly shifts from Allie’s writing to the past to the present which can cause a bit of mental whiplash at times. The book starts off slow and the direction of the novel is hard to navigate in the first two sections. It isn’t until the third and final part of the book that it becomes more fast-paced and palatable.
Additionally, I couldn’t really connect with the characters like I was anticipating. Maybe it’s because I’m not a mother myself, but I just found it hard to relate to being a middle-aged single mother struggling to raise her son well and comparing herself to those around her.
This novel also takes a very politicized stance on certain ideas, which I wasn’t really expecting. Topics like #MeToo Movement and the events leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election are brought up in terms of how Allie tries to portray Lana and how Allie wishes the country could be.
While this novel was interesting and might be a five star read for others, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. However, if you want to read a novel that digs deep into motherhood, feminism, and American politics, then I would definitely give this one a read!
*I received an ARC from Algonquin Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!