Sometimes you read a book that touches you deeply and opens your eyes to a new thought. When I requested The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan, I did not expect it to be one of those books. I thought it would just be funny. But this book is so much deeper than that. Although my life has very few similarities to the main character’s, I found myself relating to her so much.
Lila Soto is an educated woman who is about to give birth to her second child. She used to work for a major hotel chain, flying around to their hotels and solving their problems. It was a job she loved. he and her husband recently moved from New Orleans to Philadelphia for Sam’s job. He’s the new restaurant critic for a major newspaper, and he’s determined to keep his identity a secret. When they go out to restaurants, he wears a disguise and refuses to answer to his name. Lila can deal with that aspect of her new life, but Sam has also decided that Lila has to be careful who she associates with so that no one can accuse him of favoritism in his reviews. But without her job and with no friends Lila begins to lose herself and her identity. She struggles with the decisions she has made, and can’t help but wonder if she made a mistake somewhere along the way. Her old boss offers her a job, but Sam doesn’t want her to take it, and she wonders about leaving her children and traveling. Her new neighborhood is full of seemingly perfect women who are amazing mothers, and she just can’t find a way to fit in with them. The book covers over a year of time and follows Lila along a journey to finding herself. She leaves behind a life that she loved, for one that she loves even more.
I think that this is a book that every woman can relate to whether they work or stay at home. I saw so many of my own emotions in Lila’s life. I think a lot of women struggle to find their identity after they have children. Here is a woman who loves her husband and loves her children, but can no longer figure out exactly who she is. While Sam obviously loves her, too, he cannot understand all that she is going through. Just like life when you are around children, this book does have its funny parts. It feels like real life while you’re reading, it’s equal parts fun and sadness. I felt her pain, her confusion and her doubts, but I also cheered when she found a new normal for her and her family.
This is my first book by Elizabeth LaBan, but I think she is an amazing author. It’s not every writer that can write such relatable, believable characters. I definitely look forward to reading more from her in the future. I think this is a great book for all moms to read. You may finish it and realize that you are not alone.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. You can find The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on sale on or around January 5, 2016.