After Happily Ever After
Leslie A. Rasmussen
She Writes Press (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (12/2021)
“After Happily Ever After,” by Leslie A. Rasmussen, is an engaging, inspiring novel about finding yourself again in the face of an empty nest. This story centers on a woman in her mid-forties, Maggie Dolin, who doesn’t necessarily want to grow old gracefully. She’s always placed her daughter Gia first, actually traded in her career in publishing to bring her up, but what’s she going to do with the rest of her life when her daughter goes away to college? Maggie needs a new purpose. She needs to learn how to put herself first for a change. Her husband isn’t as involved as she needs, and he may be keeping secrets. She would turn to her mother, father, and brother, but they have issues of their own. So, this leaves Maggie floundering. Without support systems, she finds solace in a younger man, and this isn’t like her. As this new relationship develops, she finds herself at a crossroads, facing choices she thought she’d never have to make.
I really like the balance the author shows in this novel—the balance between entertainment and social issues. Because as much as I adore the plot, the underlying problems are so very real to most people in Maggie’s situation. Even though you will be entertained, with some laughter and tears, you will also gain insight into what it would and does feel like at the empty nest stage of life. I like the honest way the author has Maggie sorting this out–with stress, confusion, uncertainty, loneliness–all in an intimate first-person POV. She leaves no emotional stone unturned.
This is a book for all generations, in my opinion, not just middle age. We can all learn something from Maggie’s story, about how to cope with stress, emotional abandonment, heavy responsibility, and life-altering decisions. As a general reader looking for a well-executed story, and former social worker, I highly recommend “After Happily Ever After,” by Leslie A. Rasmussen.