By Marc Schuster
The Permanent Press, $28.00, 280 pages

Like most moms today, Audrey, the heroine of Marc Schuster’s debut novel The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom & Party Girl, seems to have a split personality between the woman she ought to be and the woman she wants to be. Wonder Mom is the kind of woman who lives through her children, believing that “driving [her daughters] Catherine and Lily to play dates and extra curricular activities strategically placed at opposite ends of gods green earth was a noble calling.” She is the kind of mom that joins the GESTAPO, the local parents initiative for her children’s school, just to prove that she is in fact a good mom.  It is this approval-seeking nature that resurrects the other aspect of her personality, Party Girl, the girl she was before she was a mother. Damaged more than she realizes by her divorce, Audrey allows party girl more and more free reign over her life. The party girl wants her daughters to think she is more fun than their father, she wants friends to find her scintillating, and men to find her desirable. It is party girl who organizes a Just-say-no assembly while in the throes of a Cocaine high and Party Girl who is swearing at salesclerks in front of her eight year old while purchasing a name-brand purse that she cannot afford. Wonder Mom & Party Girl try to live two separate lives so both can have their cake or coke and eat it too, but the balancing act risks everything. Wonder Mom & Party Girl is a dark comedy that explores the fragile, multifaceted nature of modern mothers trying to have it all. This novel has off the wall supporting characters such as a Just-say-no superhero and a Jazz crazy coke fiend, and such poignant descriptions that they stay in your head like an overplayed song on the radio.

Reviewed by Rachelle Barrett