Ally lives with her husband and teen son. Across the street lives Juno, her husband, and her two teen daughters. Juno and Ally are best friends and have shared a lot together, but when Juno signs up for Queen Mum, a reality TV show, it changes everything. For two weeks she'll live in another household while a new mom comes to live in her house. But Ally doesn't like change, and she knows from bitter experience how something precious can be lost in a moment.I bought this book on a whim and was expecting it to be a cute, light read about two families and a reality TV show. Well, let me tell you that I was totally wrong with that assumption! Queen Mum is much deeper than that, and for some reason I felt some sort of connection with the book and its characters that I wasn't anticipating.
The first section of the book (let's call it the "Queen Mum" section) is purely about the reality TV show and how both families were coping with change. I expected the Queen Mum section to last for the entirety of the book, and was a bit concerned when it ended so soon! But what follows is a demonstration of how families can drift apart, how friendships are put to the test, how to cope with grief, and how to stand independently when your best friend is unstable.
Ally has lost a child due to a car accident, and we see how this tragedy has marked her personality. She is not confident to be on her own and constantly relies on Juno to support her. When Juno is not there and is trying to cope with her own problems, Ally is lost and lashes out on her troubled teen son and her husband. Throughout the novel, she finally comes to terms with her life and what she's lost, what she's learned, and what she finally accepts. This transformation of acceptance is what made the book for me - it was an important part of the book and I can see many people relating to this.
Juno has her problems too - her marriage is weakening, her mother is on the verge of death, and her teen daughters are acting up. The once perfect and dominant Juno goes through a period of near-depression but prevails and comes out as a stronger individual. Yet again this demonstrates how Queen Mum is about change, acceptance, and the strong ties that will always keep you connected to your family.
Recommendation: The reading itself was light, but the material this book covers shouldn't be read by someone who's expecting to breeze through a book without getting invested in it. For this reason, I recommend Queen Mum to someone who is looking for a book that is short, sweet, yet has substance.