Book Review | Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Title: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Author: Ruth Pennebaker

My Review:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker is the story of 3 generations of women–Ivy, Joanie, and Caroline–that are forced to live under the same roof due to the recession. Ivy is the family matriarch, feisty and set in her own ways. Joanie is about to turn 50 and is still dealing with emotional issues that arose after her divorce, and is learning how to readjust to being a career woman. Caroline is Joanie’s rebellious and aloof teenage daughter, who is struggling with her self image and unrequited love for a classmate.

Pennebaker takes us into deepest parts of each of these women’s minds, and I just wanted to climb my way out from the very beginning. Yes, each of these women is going through a tough time in their lives, but in reality, not one of them has it all that bad. I found it very hard to sympathize for any of them, except for maybe Ivy, who is 78 and not in touch with the changes that have happened in the world over the years. I admire her for trying to catch up to everyone else by learning how to operate a computer, but her situation just made me sad as I thought of my own lonely grandmother.

What really bothered me about this book is that they were all so self-absorbed that they could not even see each other’s pain and suffering. Joanie looks at her mother as a burden, wishing she could just thrust Ivy on her brother David. Caroline is hateful and comes off as shallow. Ivy is the most observant of the group, but no one really takes anything she says or does seriously.

This is more of a character study than anything else; there’s no real plot or point to this book as far as I could see. It just starts at one point in their lives, and then randomly ends. It’s a short read, and for that I’m thankful at least. I didn’t find any of the characters enjoyable or interesting, and the writing style was mediocre. I can see that this book might have appeal for a certain audience, but I’m just not it. If the story synopsis appeals to you, give it a try by reading a sample online or at your local bookseller, but this isn’t one you want to rush out and buy without any thought put into it.

*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including,, and

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