BY THE NUMBERS: A Family Sandwich – SPOILERISH but No Outcomes Revealed.

By The Numbers

BY THE NUMBERS_coverBy: Jen Lancaster
Narrator: Allyson Ryan
PRHA:Penguin Audio 

Genre: Fiction – Humorous – General 

Release Date: June 21, 2016

8 Hours and 56 Minutes
Unabridged Download
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Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Best of Enemies serves up a hilarious new novel of the “sandwich generation.”
Actuary Penny Sinclair has a head for business, and she always makes rational decisions. Knowing that 60% of spouses cheat and 50% of marriages end in divorce, she wasn’t too surprised when her husband had an affair. (That he did so with a woman their daughter’s age? Well, that part did sting a bit.) She just made sure she got everything in the divorce, including their lovely old Victorian house. And as soon as her younger daughter has her hipster-fabulous wedding in the backyard, she’s trading it in for a condo in downtown Chicago…
Well within the average market time in her area, Penny gets an offer on the house. But then life happens. Her children, her parents and her ex come flying back to the nest, all in need of Penny’s emotional—and financial—support. Spread thin, Penny becomes the poster child for the “sandwich generation,” when all she really wanted to do was make managing director, buy a white couch, and maybe go on a date… – See more at:



My Take Oblong Shaped


CAUTION SPOILER-ISH, Maybe, I am not sure. I don’t reveal outcomes.

I thought this book really looks at the roles contemporary women have to take in contemporary society; and then gets it all wrong by assigning a bad wife and mother label to the main character, Penny.  Penny works her butt off to create a stable family of one intensely spoiled and self-centered daughter who appears to be conscienceless and clueless, one daughter who is only mildly so and one good tempered young man with a great approach to life.

Penny has been going through some stuff – like her parents moving in with her for a while, her very obnoxious daughter becoming a TOTAL bridezilla, her ex-husband being around for the wedding and beyond, her other daughter being in trouble, and she has also begun to explore the dating world.  She has become a member of the sandwich generation – and she is the filling.

Penny is an actuary, an incredibly demanding, and very well-paid, math-based profession.  To go from the job she had as a market analyst trainee to actuarial success takes study, work and determination. As any woman will tell you, to get ahead, or even maintain status quo she has to work harder than any guy, and she has to be focused. She provides the most financial security for the family. And she travels a lot for her job.  On the other hand her husband doesn’t have to travel as much so assumes a more primary role in child care.  I don’t know why, as the family got more financially stable, they didn’t hire some childcare.

Is she somewhat absent as her kids grow up? Yes. Did she leave them unloved, uncared for,  or neglected? No.

Does she engage in spoiling her kids to cope? Probably. Does her husband do the same? Yes, but only she is at fault for it.  Find me a parent who, at some time, doesn’t give in to a child’s tantrums or manipulation.

Why then, in the end is it up to Penny to admit she has been a bad mother and wife? I was appalled by this idea. Someone even asks if she apologized to her husband [for the way she worked her ass off].

I HOPE the idea was to point out the complexity of modern life for a woman “trying to have-it-all.” Men assume they are entitled to have it all, but women who do so have to apologize. If this was the concept then the irony was not effectively communicated.


The narration was excellent with Allyson providing a wry counterpart to Lancaster’s writing; she really gets how frustrating it is to be Penny.

Penny is supposed to realize that all the time she has worked for advancement (which I was always taught was what we should do) it was for her own selfish needs. Seriously? This ticked me off.

And, Lancaster certainly gets how frustrating it is to be everything to everyone in today’s world where women are expected to maintain traditional roles while taking on professional expectations as well. But, I felt the conclusion she reaches is the wrong one for the character. 

For provoking my ire and making me think about this issue the story gets an A+, but for its message I would  give it a failing grade.

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