This Novel Examines Motherhood, but Not From the Usual Angles

It’s the wake-up call Leanne needs to see that she has outgrown the friendship, struck up 10 years ago when “she did not yet understand the ways she was willing to make herself small so that a female figure might love her. ” The mature thing to do would be to walk away from Regina right then and there – but where is the schadenfreude in that?

Between attempts to expose Regina for the overgrown mean girl she is, Leanne strikes up a new friendship with a fellow writer she has become “mildly obsessed with,” the child-free critically acclaimed author Maxine Hunter, who offers something Regina never could – an authentic connection. I enjoyed the development of this friendship, though the prologue, where Leanne welcomes Maxine and 30 mewling cats into her home, comes from a moment in the story that is downright petty.

The more powerful parts of the story come from Morris’ witty observations. “Most of the world seemed to agree on the horribleness of internet trolls,” Leanne thinks, while scrolling through the comments on the viral video of Regina’s dippy husband, “but what about all of the online commenters who made you feel seen, made you laugh out loud? They were the opposite of trolls. They should get a name too. ” Brilliant – and whatever you want to call them, Leanne herself is most certainly one.

There are also poignant epiphanies about family, which occur via a truce with her Republican physician mother and a severing of ties with her father’s embittered widow. I reread that chapter several times, feeling as if I’d had the wind knocked out of me, and suspecting I wasn’t reading fiction at all.

And of course, the takedown of Regina, when it finally arrives, is a chef’s kiss moment.

“Wildcat” was a book I could not set down for long. What was all this tension leading to? That something wasn’t divorce, an affair, tortured regret over giving up your life for a tiny, demanding demon. That something was the realization that you’re content with your life and your choices, even if every day is not easy, and that it’s time to excise the people who can not be happy for you too – and maybe make them suffer, just a little.

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