Review: The Trouble with Lexie ISBN 9780062416452

Review: The Trouble with Lexie ISBN 9780062416452

Title: The Trouble with Lexie
Author: Jessica Anya Blau
ISBN: 9780062416452
Price: $18.50
Publisher: HarperCollins

Review by Rosanna Haroutounian 

The Trouble with Lexie begins as Lexie James is waking up in the bed of her lover – with his wife peering over her, one shoe missing, and stolen anti-anxiety pills stuffed in her bra.

Author Jessica Anya Blau takes us back to the day when the 33-year-old counsellor first met Daniel Waite on Parents’ Weekend at Ruxton Academy where his son, Ethan, is one of Lexie’s student patients. At this point, Lexie appears to be an independent and accomplished young woman, having left behind a childhood of poverty and neglect to achieve a Masters degree and land a job at a prominent New England private school.

She’s also engaged to marry Peter, a musician and guitar-maker who jokes about Daniel, or “Dirty Mind Dad,” and his flirty advances towards Lexie. But after a few meetings with Daniel “to talk about Ethan,” along with several not-so-innocent text messages, Lexie realizes she is falling for the suave, fifty-something school alumnus.

Lexie’s efforts to hold together her engagement to Peter, her career, and her affair with Daniel quickly spiral out of control as she struggles to legitimize her actions.

Blau does not create in Lexie a protagonist that readers may admire or whose actions we can sympathize with or justify. Rather, Lexie is a character that we often criticize and might even hate.

While Lexie is a victim of bad parenthood, misogyny, and mental illness, her reactions are often incomprehensible. Blau shows us that a female lead can be strong and independent, but at the same time deeply flawed to the point of being both the villainess and heroine of her own story.

Lexie, like many young women today, is so caught up in the effort to be perfect that she hurts herself, and many people around her, along the way.

“Why hadn’t anyone started a business where you could hire a surrogate to do the hard things that should be done face-to-face: breakups, quitting jobs, asking for money owed, telling someone they’d disappointed you?” Lexie wonders. Her ability to care for her students and guide them in navigating young adulthood clashes with her self-criticism, immaturity, and destructive behaviour.

During her various highs and lows, Lexie – along with her best friend, Amy, and her mother, Mitzie – provide readers with much comic relief. Daniel exhibits quite a bit of charm and humour as well, including a few jokes about “the hilarious former prime minister,” Jean Chrétien.

Blau’s vivid descriptions of the lives of staff and students at the prestigious Ruxton Academy, juxtaposed against Lexie’s dismal upbringing, are both authentic and insightful. Above all, Blau shows us that like all women, Lexie is the driver of her own fate and capable of redemption.

The Trouble with Lexie is an engrossing and entertaining read with an unconventional protagonist who offers us many occasions to challenge our prejudices and reflect on the lasting impact of our pasts.


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