I Was Told It Would Get Easier is a contemporary fictional novel by Abbi Waxman. The main characters are Jessica and Emily, a mother and daughter duo living in Los Angeles.
Emily is in her last year of high school and Jessica is trying to be supportive and encouraging. Part of this involves going on a college tour. The two of them head off on a road trip to explore different university options for Emily. During this journey, Emily and Jessica get to see and learn about each other and themselves in new ways, and return home with new perspectives and possibilities.
This is an engaging story of family and self-discovery, which also explores themes of self-acceptance and forgiveness.
Jessica is a middle-aged woman balancing career and motherhood. She is a partner in a law firm, working long areas to take care of herself and her daughter. She’s a single mom, never married. Even though she needs money to pay Emily’s college, she threatens to leave her job at the beginning of the book. The senior partner wanted two deserving women to wait another year to make partner, due to some office politics involving misbehavior from a former male partner. Jessica threatens to quit until both women are made partners, and holds off on making a decision until she returns from a college tour with her daughter.
Emily is not so excited about the colleague tour, but she is excited to have time away from some drama happening st school. Yet, travelling with her mom is not easy. Their relationship is full of perceived slights, miscommunication and hurt feelings.
The college tour is organized through a prestigious, expensive company. There are 10 teenagers on the tour, each with one of their parents. The participants are of a variety of personalities, including some high achieving, very smart kids.
There is one other kid from Emily’s school, a girl named Alice. They were briefly friends but are no longer, and their parents are not friends either. While the tour coordinator ensures that everyone socializes with each other, Emily naturally gravitates to a boy, Will and Jessica gets on well with Will’s dad, Ben.
The college tour is a funny and sweet collection of events, from embarrassing parent dances to dates and a first kiss. There is even a scandal when Alice’s mom tries to pay an admissions officers to secure admissions for daughter Alice at their school.
On the trip, Jessica gets called in to work and has to leave the tour to do some work nearby for one of the colleges. She also has frequent calls with her mentee, Valentina, which Emily is jealous of because Valentina seems to get more of Jessica undivided attention.
The college tour is an opportunity for Emily to decide what comes next, but it also gives Jessica a chance to explore how her life had turned out. She has let some of her dreams go, and on this trip, she meets some friends that encourage her to revisit those dreams. She also rediscovers her femininity when she meets up with an old boyfriend. Although she rebukes his very forward advances, she has fun dressing up and rediscovering her femininity. After all, when Emily leaves home, she will be an empty nester and her life will necessarily change.
At one of the college stops, Jessica and Emily have dinner with her father in Philadelphia. It’s a chance for Jessica to remember her mother and acknowledge the impact she had on their life. By reflecting, Jessica gets to see her own history and that of her family differently. Her sister and daughter help expand her knowledge of her mother in ways she hadn’t realized before.
In NY, The FBI shows up to talk to Emily. There had been a scandal at school of kids planning to cheat on AP exams. Emily was the one who reported the matter to the administration, hoping to prevent her friends from getting into trouble from cheating. It turns out the FBI were working on the case already, trying to apprehend the people involved in an international cheating ring. For the first time, Jessica realized how she’s misjudged her daughter. She gets to see that she has raised a very capable child who can handle difficult situations, including the fact that Jessica might be out of a job.
The Ending of I Was Told It Would Get Easier
At the end of I Was Told It Would Get Easier, Emily has made a decision to go to vocational school to learn how to make things. In this way, she is inspired by the dreams of her grandmother. She first used electric tools with her grandmother and is following in her footsteps, exploring a dream that her grandmother never got a chance to explore.
Jessica’s blackmail has been effective at work, and both women have been made partners. She can remain in her job or choose to do something different. Her friends discussed and presented many possibilities to her, and she realizes that she has options and can make new plans if she wishes
Will an Emily have plans to meet again. Will will be attending Caltech and Emily will be nearby (although I don’t remember where). They will get a chance to explore the rising feelings between them.
Note that Amazon Links are affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases made at Amazon if you use this link to make a purchase.