Crazy Stupid Money by Rachel Shukert is a Kindle Single (which means it is short, only 45 pages) which I downloaded through the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. It was a pleasant surprise because stories of relationships are not my favorite genre. I am usually bored by the soap opera syrupy nature of their plots. This was a well-delivered story using lots of humor, sarcasm, and weird observations on life that occurred between the author and her husband over two extremely turbulent years. There is a refreshing description of how Rachel feels about white privilege. This kind of description can be off-putting to readers like me who resent political correctness (also known as Cultural Marxism) but I found this description meaningful, not condescending, and not sycophantic.
Rachel has always worried about money. As a young girl. She stored coins and small money she could get from her parents, various relatives, and creepy Norman (a friend of her grandparents). Her family was not wealthy but they were well off; she was never in need of money. She simply felt more comfortable if she had some stored away in a place that was unknown to her family, friends, or (much later) husband Ben. Rachel wrote stories, blog posts, book blurbs, and anything she thought might sell, even a novel. When anything sold, she would put a percentage of her money in the “rainy day” fund. Just as when she was a child, she didn’t have to worry about daily maintenance expenses, such as utilities, rent, or food. As a child, her parents took care of everything; as an adult in a marital relationship, Ben took care of everything.
Ben had been working in advertising for eight years. He made a comfortable living for both. Their conversations at home concerned their careers. Although Rachel was depressed over the disparity in their incomes, she had come to accept the low rates of pay and infrequent advances as a free-lance writer. Fine, until Ben decided he had had enough of the advertising hustle and he was going to take some time off to find something he liked to do. He didn’t have a plan for a replacement career; he just launched himself into a void.
Their lifestyle was fine for a few months. Then they couldn’t pay some of their bills. Rachel knew Ben could go back to what he had been doing but Ben wasn’t willing to do so. Ben knew Rachel had a stash of money and couldn’t understand why she was unwilling to use it until he could find something. Ben had supported Rachel for seven years. Now she was unwilling to support him. There were recriminations, there were arguments of increasing decibels, there were police responses to complaints. Ben and Rachel were driven to the edge of divorce. But neither of them, despite almost two years of conflict, wanted that.
This is where the novel turns serious and there are some great observations on the compromises that people must make to continue a relationship. And this is where I encountered the only positive meaning I have seen to the word “co-dependency.” Ben and Rachel went through therapy; I found some comments made by therapists original and brilliant. The reactions of Ben and Rachel to the therapy were not the same. Would they succeed in staying together or not? The ending will surprise some readers.
Finally, a small excerpt which kept me going forward in the novel. I was greatly amused by the style of writing. An example:
“I expected him to provide an outline for making the shift into digital strategy, or to say that he wanted to explore whether there might be some job opportunities for him in the tech world. Instead, he launched into an elaborate reverie about how he intended to discover an algorithm based on brain function and behavior that would explain everything about human behavior in a single equation, which he could then sell to some giant corporation for billions and billions of dollars, and I felt my face take on the shape of Jennifer Connelly’s when she finally walks into Russell Crowe’s secret office in A Beautiful Mind and discovers the walls are all covered with, like, the number 23.” (Kindle Locations 61-64).
I will look for more writing by Rachel Shukert.