Life can be crazy. Between work and family and friends, sometimes we’re stressed before even getting out of bed. On those days, we try to psych ourselves up by blasting our favorite music, drinking all the coffee or looking up inspirational quotes online. That’s kind of what Eleanor Flood does in Maria Semple’s excellent new novel, Today Will Be Different.
Unfolding over the course of just one day, Today Will Be Different has quite a bit in common with Semple’s 2013 smash hit, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Like Bernadette, the novel is set in Seattle, where the very relatable Eleanor lives with her husband, Joe, a surgeon who works with the Seahawks, and their precocious 8-year-old son, Timby.
Promising herself a productive day, she repeats a mantra that includes the phrase “today will be different.” Of course nothing goes according to plan, which is what makes this novel so great. After Timby is sent home from school sick, Joe’s office says he told them he was on a family vacation (news to Eleanor, of course). What ensues is a day that’s definitely different—just not in the way our clever yet neurotic main character intended.
Despite her plan going horribly awry, Eleanor is a perfectly imperfect character whose flaws are instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever felt pressure to have it all. Basically, Eleanor is us, and we love reading about ourselves—especially when the writer is as sharp as Semple.