At the beginning of Theresa Rebeck’s third novel, I’m Glad About You (Putnam), un-coupled high-school sweethearts Alison and Kyle are both uncomfortable—she with her plodding acting career in New York City, he with the self-diagnosing suburban mothers at his Cincinnati pediatrics practice. Rebeck wants them to squirm, it would seem. As Alison gets her big break and Kyle’s marriage implodes, any moment of relief the two find (separately and together) is fleeting. Considering the 24/7/365 life we live these days, perhaps that’s the point.
As we follow Alison’s rise, it’s clear we’re in Rebeck’s wheelhouse; the Cincinnati-born playwright and novelist is good at pulling back the curtain on the entertainment industry: the unsettling focus on Alison’s appearance, her creepy relationship with a director, even an online hit piece. (One complaint: The book too often trots out “Midwesterners are rubes” to underline the gulf between Show People and Regular Folk.) Kyle seems like someone Rebeck might’ve sat next to at the parish fish fry, a repressed rule-follower carrying a very particular sort of Catholic guilt.
In the end, though it may be unsatisfying for the reader, the path Rebeck has laid for these conflicted characters feels all too real.
I’m Glad About You, On Sale February 23