Living Room: A Novel

Written by Rachel Sherman; Presentation by Erin Hoelscher

Three Generations

In this novel published in 2009, you learn about the lives of a modern day daughter, mother, and grandmother. You get to experience what they are going through, how they are dealing with situations, and what small minute moments in life can lead to in their thoughts. There is a clear comparison of life, technology, goals, love, and various struggles with age. You get a good understanding of women and how their role as a mother plays out differently, yet the same for all.

The Grandmother: Headie

Through the twice widowed grandmother, Headie, you see love in its most basic, animistic form. She had sex when she wanted to and married for safety. She did not marry out of love and she only mothered out of obligation. Even when her son, Jeffery, was born, she dressed him up as a girl and said his name was Victoria. She married her first husband, Gene, because she needed someone to raise her unborn son and to feel connected with someone. However, she never fully felt the love from Gene that she thought she would. It seemed as if he always compared her to his deceased wife and how she was nothing like her. Headie did her best to be a good wife for him despite the distance she felt. Once he died, she married the real father to her son Allen. She was unable to marry him when he got her pregnant because he was married at the time. She thought this was true love, but over time she realized that he only loved her because she was who he wanted her to be. Once again, Headie did what a wife is to do and stayed with her husband and stayed a loving mother.


After learning Headie's life, you understand and respect her as a woman, wife, and mother. She did what men expected her to and always loved her son. She reached out to her family members and shared her life with them.

The Mother: Livia

Livia is married to Jeffrey and has one daughter named Abby. Livia is faced with challenges like an eating disorder, sexual confusion, and emotional instability. She is currently working on her thesis for her masters, but she never really touches on it, and she is an aspiring interior decorator.


Through Livia we see what it's like to be in marriage that you feel obligated to stay in and the emotional toll that takes on one's confidence and ambition. Shortly into her marriage with Jeffery she realizes that she can no longer do it and feels like giving up. However, Jefferey convinces her to stay and be a mother to his child. Despite her reluctance to do so, she stays and gives birth to a daughter for him - a daughter she did not fully love. She was pushed into being a mother for a husband that she did not want to stay with. She tried to love her as much as she should, but it just ended up in failure and her husband yelling at her to "grow up!"


Because of this trap that she is in, she has an eating disorder where she overeats all day long. She eats alone in her room, in the car, etc. so she is not caught and is not embarrassed. She is ashamed of her inability to control this part of her life, but she never takes initative to change this quality about her.


She meets a woman named Simone who she later finds out is a lesbian and has been living with her partner for eleven years. Throughout the novel Livia mentally asks questions about the lesbian relationship: how it started, what they do in their free time, if either of them found her attractive, etc. The reader gets a good understanding of how lost and out of touch Livia is with herself and who she is.

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The Daughter: Abby

Abby is the 15 year old daughter of Livia and Jeffrey who makes a new friend, Jenna, at the beginning of the novel. Through Abby the reader relives adolescents and all the struggles of trying to fit in in high school.


Jenna starts out gently by teaching Abby how to pluck her eyebrows, and then escalates it into convincing her to get drunk on her front lawn with some boys from her high school. It seems that soon after this Abby is always wanting to smoke a cigarette. She constantly skips class to go smoke and runs in to Jenna and the boys outside of school all the time. Soon after, Jenna works her seductive quality on another man so he will buy her and Abby alcohol. Abby and Jenna decide to get drunk before a pep-rally at their school, but both end up getting alcohol poisoning and Abby has to get her stomach pumped.


Abby has to learn and understand the level of severity of her mistake, but it takes her some time. She realizes Jenna is not her true friend and that everyone has their fault and anything and everything can go wrong at a given moment. She just wanted to be liked by the cute boys in school, but put her morals aside to please others.

Various generations of women sacrificing for the acceptance and safety of others.