Bec is a college student at loose ends. Not crazy about her advertising major, she’s successfully avoided deciding what to do with her life thus far by partying hard with her roommate and best friend Jill and carrying on a guilty affair with a married professor. Then, while looking for a new part-time job that pays more than waitressing, she answers an ad for a home health-care aide. Expecting a weak, bed-ridden old lady, Bec is surprised to find that wheelchair-confined Kate, afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease, is young, smart, and sophisticated, with a wicked sense of humor. Like this exchange: “‘Oh my god,’ I said embarrassed. ‘You think I’m like those TV movies where the person with the disease teaches everyone how to live.’ Kate laughed soundlessly. ‘It’s always so nice of us.’” When Bec begins working for Kate and her husband Evan, she discovers a whole new world of witty conversation, gourmet cooking, and urbane dinner parties. Soon Bec is so immersed in Kate’s life that it becomes difficult for her to distinguish where Kate’s life leaves off and her own begins. Kate is dying, but Bec’s life has just begun. Will she ever be able to establish her own identity and personality while under Kate’s charismatic shadow? This sharply observed novel, full of painful realizations, hilarious conversations and some of the best food descriptions I’ve ever read, perfectly captures that time in our early 20’s when our adult identities are beginning to form and we are so easily influenced by those around us whose personalities are set and stronger than our own.
You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen