Book Review- Kramer vs. Kramer.

Screenshot from Google.

I am really excited I am getting to go on this journey with everyone. I had to take a break off an assignment to just share this. A journey with a thousand miles is said begins with a step. So does reading 100 books. But before I share in the excitement of this book for discussion, I must also share the downside. I badly want to read a 100 books and its not like I don’t know how, its like I’m experiencing readers bloc. I sought for advice from another bibliophile and she diagnosed me as being bored.

I never saw it as that because for the longest time, I haven’t really wanted to confront boredom as a thing. However, I am determined to get my self together and keep up with my schedule.

Kramer vs. Kramer was written in 1977. I am a sucker for old books because I get to see how life was then. I imagine myself going crazy if I get to see the first copies printed copies of the book. The book does sound like a case but it is very fictional and very moving.

It was written by Avery Corman and it revolves around the life of Joanna Kramer, Ted Kramer and their son Billy. Joanna and Ted met at a place called “Fire Island” and they get married. However, Joanna was bored to death in the marriage. After they had Billy, everything just went south- she wasn’t doing well mentally, she had frequent breakdowns and she was bored to death.

“…In her world there was no one, not the park-bench club, nor her old friends, nor Ted, no one with whom she could share the dirty little secret…”

So she left. She got a divorce and transferred custodial rights to her husband. She wasn’t even there physically for the divorce- that must have been the most virtual thing then.

After his wife leaves, Ted has to be both the father and the mother which will be difficult for a man who never spent a lot of time with his child. At a point for me in the book when the in-laws were involved, it was like Billy’s presence in his father’s life was an abnormal thing and Billy was being tolerated and one thing I believe is that children need to realise that they are loved. It was abnormal for a mother to transfer custodial rights to the father. What was gripping for me was the fact that Joanna announced she was leaving on Billly’s birthday.

One day, after the family of two has a sense of normalcy, Joanna shows up wanting custodial rights. My Nigerian mind is like “If I deck (hit) you”. And Ted was going to lose his child. It was emotionally gripping for me because they had to go to court again on who should get custody of the child. In my mind, I was like “Cant they share the child? The American court system then was favorable to granting the mother custodial rights even when she decided to transfer custodial rights to the father from the beginning. When the judgement was out, the court ruled the best interests of a child that young, “Rolebine v. Rolebine (which also seems fictional because I googled it and didn’t see any case like that), dictates finding for the petitioner”. He was to lose custodial rights. I was livid. Think up every imaginable feeling you can think of- that was me then.

Was life supposed to be normal? It could never have been because they had become attached. It had become the normal conduct of their life to be together. They had to part. On the day Joanna is to pick up Billy, she doesn’t. “Seeing the two of you together… when you…take him to school. In the courtroom… hearing you… talk about Billy… I cant bring myself… to break that up… He’s yours Ted”.

To be honest, I am fiercely protective of the characters in the things I read and I do question Joanna’s true intention. Was it that she didn’t want to be burdened with the peculiarities of the child or she really did think they deserved each other? Beyond her boredom, Did Joanna see Billy as a burden? Was that why she left? I really want to hear your views about this.

I told my cousin about how it ended and she said “that only happens in a book”.

But more importantly, this story really changed the trajectory of granting custodial rights to fathers. It really changed my view on men and divorce. These days, we get so caught up in feminism and women’s rights and the fact that in a marriage, the woman should have autonomy. We never really think about the men- what do they get out of it. Men should be able to keep their children too when things go south. I guess this is one of the reasons why feminism isn’t relatable for people?

What are your views? Send me an email of your point of view at or leave a response for me.

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