Award-winning lawyer shows there are multiple truths in marriage and divorce.
EVERY OTHER WEEKEND is a contemporary divorce novel, both funny and poignant, which includes a courtroom drama and millennial polyamorous girlfriend.
Set in the politically progressive, urban and notably self-satisfied community of Greenwood, the story centers around forty-ish hipster dad Jake, his self-absorbed divorce lawyer, a cranky family court judge who presides over his custody case, and various choruses of friends and neighbors who gossip, dissect and weigh in.
She Writes Press
“It’s hard to believe this is attorney-in-real-life Margaret Klaw’s first novel. Every Other Weekend is written with the arms-flung-wide confidence of someone who has been paying very close attention to the always messy, sometimes funny, and never boring world of divorce. This delicious dissection of a good-on-paper family torn asunder will keep you happily reading well past your bedtime.”―CELIA RIVENBARK, New York Times best-selling author of Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank
“So many things about Every Other Weekend blew me away. As I was reading, the characters’ dilemmas followed me everywhere―into the shower, into my dreams, busting into my train of thought when I was supposed to be working. Few books have had that effect on me. Anna Karenina comes to mind, and the scope and depth of Klaw’s novel is indeed Tolstoy-esque. Every Other Weekend smacks of intensely observed reality, made spellbinding and poignant by a very talented author. The ending will have you begging for more.”―CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN, New York Times best-selling author of Carved in Sand
“Margaret Klaw’s debut novel, Every Other Weekend, achieves the very difficult, which is to offer a deliciously readable, rollicking tale that nevertheless explores the deeply tangled threads of domestic life. In her wry stew, made up of over-the-hill hipsters, gossiping yoginis, polyamorous millennials, aging dogs, and scared-of-the-dark kiddos, Klaw raises deep questions about love, loyalty, and justice in a world where there are no pure heroes and villains.” ―LISE FUNDERBURG, author of Pig Candy and Black, White, Other
“Margaret Klaw’s debut novel, Every Other Weekend, is a clever, page-turning master class in blurred lines, moral ambiguity, and the complicated aftermath of divorce. Written from the perspective of an experienced family law attorney, Every Other Weekend tells the same story through the lens of the attorneys, friends, parties, witnesses, and children involved with staggering results, begging the question: when relationships break apart, how can we ever get to the whole truth and nothing but?”―AMY IMPELLIZZERI, author of In Her Defense and I Know How This Ends
“Incisive, smart, and page-turning, Every Other Weekend is much more than the story of a dissolving marriage. Klaw’s keen observations, spot-on turns of phrase, and astute social commentary pepper this tale of an entangled community, half-truths, and outright lies. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty!”―ANDREA J. STEIN, author of Typecast
“Jake Naudain, an aging wanna-be hipster in the tight-knit enclave of Greenwood, is at his wit's end: his wife wants a divorce, and the novel takes off on a face-paced, wildly entertaining romp that pokes fun at dog owners, yoga moms, and vegans, while digging deeper into the musings of a feminist lawyer who represents a self-absorbed, male privileged client. A refreshing read!”―DEDE CUMMINGS, author of The Meeting Place
“A satiric, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable look at the evolution and dissolution of an American family and the lies and truths we tell others and ourselves, from a powerful writer with a deep understanding of the chaos of modern life.” ―JON MCGORAN, author of Spliced and Drift
“Margaret Klaw’s keen observations about the law and human nature are eye-opening and jaw-dropping. A must-read!”―LISA SCOTTOLINE, author of Eternal
ABOUT EVERY OTHER WEEKEND:
On the outside, fortyish hipster dad Jake lives the perfect life, happily settled down in a politically progressive, urban and notably self-satisfied community, working at his not-so-demanding job, playing guitar with his band, and enjoying domestic life with his beautiful and accomplished wife Lisa and their two charming daughters.
Until Lisa blindsides Jake by telling him she wants a divorce.
From there, perspectives shift, and Jake’s world tilts out of control as the story unfolds from multiple points of view–those of other family members, Jake’s self-absorbed divorce lawyer, the cranky family court judge who presides over his custody case, his polyamorous millennial girlfriend, and even the beloved family dog.
For fans of “Little Children” by Tom Perrotta, Klaw’s dark humor and deep bench of experience in family law gives readers a bird’s eye view of the ripple effect caused by one family’s divorce, while making it clear that there is never one truth about a marriage.
Using her extensive experience and knowledge of divorce, custody, and the ways in which we fight for our families, Margaret reveals the surprising truth of family law -there’s alway more than one truth to any marriage.
Told through multiple perspectives including the lawyer, judge, children, and even the family dog, Klaw dives into the strategic world of divorce court while also sharing a refreshing glimpse into the messiness of marriage, divorce, and the people who are involved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning family lawyer and founding partner of an all-women’s law firm, Margaret Klaw, has dedicated her life to helping families navigate through divorce.
MARGARET KLAW is a writer, lawyer and founding partner of BKW Family Law, an all-women law firm in Philadelphia.
Named a Preeminent Woman Lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, she has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America and designated a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” in the area of family law.
Starting with day-in-the-life vignettes about practicing family law published in HuffPost, she has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time and Salon, and is the author of “Keeping it Civil:
The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer” (Algonquin Books, 2013). “Every Other Weekend” is her first work of fiction.
From her experiences, she’s written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Salon, as well as nonfiction on the subject of family law.
Now Klaw gets even more real in her fictional courtroom drama, Every Other Weekend.
FOLLOW HER ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
Find out more about Margaret at her website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:
1. While you already have a career as a successful lawyer and published author, what made you decide to create a fictional story this time?
During the editing process with my first book, KEEPING IT CIVIL: The Case of the Prenup & the Porsche and Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer (Algonquin Press, 2013), which was based on a blog I wrote about the daily life of a family lawyer (i.e., me), my editor asked me to create a story that would run throughout the book to make it feel more cohesive and less like a series of short essays and that would serve to create dramatic tension and keep readers reading. We settled on a custody trial, which I had to fictionalize because I was actually making up courtroom dialogue, unlike the clients and judges and opposing counsel I mentioned in the short vignettes, whose identities I protected but whose actions were (painstakingly) accurately retold.
It turned out that putting together that trial – I got to completely make up what the judge would say to the annoying opposing counsel! – was the most enjoyable part for me of writing Keeping it Civil. So about a year after the launch of that book, when I was thinking about what else I wanted to write, I had the not-so-bright idea that I could write a novel, which I figured would be super fun and easier than the first book because I could go wherever my imagination took me and not have to worry about protecting people’s identities. For some reason, the fact that I had never taken a creative writing course in my life and had absolutely no idea how to put together a novel didn’t seem like an impediment when I started. But of course it was, and learning, painstakingly, how to write a novel, was a profoundly humbling and challenging experience.
2. As a family lawyer, you of course drew from some of your professional experiences. How much of this story draws from real life?
A lot. Both the legal parts, e.g. what goes on at Jake’s lawyer’s office on a daily basis, what his lawyer thinks about him as a client, what happens in the courtroom during trial, what the relationship between opposing counsel is like, and what goes on behind the scenes in chambers with the judge’s clerk and court staff, etc., and the community aspect of the book as well.
“Every Other Weekend” is the story not just of an individual family but also of a cohesive urban/suburban neighborhood where all the characters live and everyone’s lives are constantly – and sometimes inappropriately – intersecting. “Greenwood,” as I call it, is a very thinly disguised version of the neighborhood in Philadelphia where I’ve lived for decades and raised my kids. The scenes at the kids’ school where Jake’s band-mate’s kid also attends and knows what’s going on with his daughter, at the dog park where Jake runs into his lawyer and meets her daughter who he then hires to babysit his kids, the various groupings of moms and daughters who meet at the coffee shop gossiping about different version of the same events, the dry cleaners where the judge runs into Jake’s lawyer, all of these are lifted from my experience with living in a community where many of my clients are my neighbors and many have become my friends. And where I have had to constantly keep secrets from my family and friends to protect client confidentiality, so I often feel like I’m navigating a sea of private information while everyone is gossiping around me and I can’t say anything.
3. The story is told through multiple narratives and you’ve talked about the fact that there’s never really just “one truth” in family law. What was the reason to tell the story this way?
I am acutely aware, after decades spent in courtrooms, that people telling different versions of the same events are not necessarily lying. Sometimes they are of course, but very very often, perhaps more in the family law context than in others, people will tell different versions of the same events because they actually perceive those events differently when they happen or perhaps remember them differently afterwards. It’s a terrible oversimplification to think that there is always a “true” account.
In “Every Other Weekend” there is one particular scene, involving Jake and his lawyer’s 18-year-old daughter who is (probably inappropriately) babysitting for his kids, which appears one way when we first hear about it from Jake, a different way when we later hear about it when the daughter is telling her friends about it, and a third way when the daughter is confronted by her mother (Jake’s lawyer) about it toward the end of the book. I have been asked by many of my early readers what actually happened in that scene, and my answer is, sincerely, I’m not sure. I really don’t know! That’s the point. And so much of what we learn about Jake and Lisa during the course of the book contradict how they see themselves and each other. All of this is fascinating to me, and it’s why I set the book in this one place where all my characters’ personal and professional lives overlap and where everyone is talking about their neighbors, and where I periodically added “choruses” – the women at the yoga studio, the guys at band practice, the teenage girls at the cafe – talking about the events unfolding around them, which give yet a third version of events as told by those on the outside looking in.
4. What are some reasons why people get divorced? Any surprising stories you can share?
I’d say in my very unofficial (but voluminous) observation, not what you’d think. Infidelity is quite low on the list – people often weather that. I’d say the greatest number of divorces are caused by various addictions (alcohol, drugs, occasionally gambling) or other mental health issues. And usually people have tried hard to make it work before deciding to pull the plug on the marriage. Financial issues are also big – which are incidentally a major part of the demise of Jake and LIsa’s marriage but you don’t really learn the scope of it until late in the book, since Jake doesn’t place much importance on it.
Domestic violence is also unfortunately pretty common, and that is certainly a reason marriages end but often not until it’s been going on a long time because the dynamic of abuse is that the person being abused is scared of standing up to the abuser. And sometimes the abuse is mental, not physical.
One thing that used to be a reason marriages ended which we never see now is because one spouse was gay, and either they or the straight spouse decided they just couldn’t live with that lie to the outside world. Fortunately now gay people don’t need to have sham heterosexual marriages. Now they can get married and get divorced for all the same reasons straight people do!
5. You mention being married to your teenage sweetheart. Would you mind telling us that story?
I met my husband on my second day of college. I was seventeen. He was nineteen and had taken a year off between high school and college, doing things like hitchhiking to Mexico and crewing on a sailboat being delivered to the Caribbean (all of which turned out, amazingly, to actually be true.) He took courses like pottery and “Self-Concept.” I was a very serious conservatory student (violin) and spent most of my freshman year in a practice room. I transferred to a different school, he followed me, I had an identity crisis at the age of 20 and realized I didn’t want to be a professional musician, he supported me, I ended up in law school, he supported me, then he went to architecture school, I supported him, we had our first child and our lives have been successfully intertwined ever since.