Seriously? Don’t you think a sports guy writing in a woman’s voice—no, wait, I’m sorry, in three women’s voices—is a stretch? It’s presumptuous for a man to write a debut novel in the first person of complex women facing excruciatingly personal crises. Can’t be done, right?
At least I thought so, and, thus, resisted cracking open All You Could Ask For, by Mike Greenberg—yes, that Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. But what I know of him, I like; more important, I like his wife, Stacy. So I did turn to the first page, and what do you know? It’s good. Really good.
Greenberg, the writer, builds this work patiently and confidently enough to sideline the notorious male ego. This book isn’t about him or even for him; it’s about and for women he loves. There’s deep respect in it, and it’s truly moving.
Admit it; this guy seems to have all he could ask for—a succesful career, good looks, snappy wit, an incredible wife, adorable kids, the white picket fence, even good hair and designer shoes. And he can write a novel…in women’s voices…about emotions and relationships—territories we women hear men flee from. Yet, here he is, arms wide open.
While reading, it dawned on me that this novel is a gift, in that he’s giving voice to what he sees women going through; he’s stretching for them. Besides, not only does he pull off writing as three women, he nails it. I cringed, laughed out loud, and cried. His characters are so appealing, I forgot I was reading a novel. It’s like diary entries. I may not know their names, but I swear they’re not characters. There’s too much life in them. Of course, I’m probably influenced by the references to stores in Westport and places in Greenwich, but, still, these women seem like people I know.
Each struggles with a flaw, but Greenberg pulls back far enough to help his readers see the life lesson. Mostly, these self-aware, articulate, well-to-do characters don’t actually screw up badly.
Except maybe to themselves. So, ultimately, this story is about personal discovery. That the realizations are about what makes life worth living, makes the work itself important.
Greenberg is observant—even to what most women try to hide—and can put it into words. Prepare to forget that All You Could Ask For is a novel and written by a man. You won’t want to think about it; you’ll just want to keep reading. By the end, you might believe Mike Greenberg is a great women’s coach. And as much as he asks for,he gives back. The book was written to honor his friend and fellow Westporter, Heidi Armitage, who died of breast cancer. His proceeds from book sales will benefit The V Foundation.