Friday, September 2, 2016

In Twenty Years...

I have always loved the film The Big Chill. College friends getting together after the death of one of their own...reminiscing about the good old days, and how much they have changed from their young idealistic selves. In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch sounded very similar, so I was super happy Netgalley sent me a copy of the book to review. And although I can't say it was as good as the film, I did enjoy this light summer read.
The book starts off in 1998, at the end of a group of 6 friends Senior year of College. They are young and carefree, ready to take on the world...determined to stay close and remain the best of friends no matter what life throws at them. Bea is the heart of the group. She has already been through hardships, and values the "six pointed star" that is their posse. Lindy is the wild child rocker. Annie is the insecure one. Colin is the sexy hunk. Catherine and Owen are the loving couple. Their friendship is toasted, and a time capsule is saved for their 20th reunion.

Cut to 2016 and everything has changed...or has it. Lindy is still the wild child rocker, now famous. Annie is still the insecure one, now a trophy wife. Colin is still the sexy a famous plastic surgeon in LA. Catherine and Owen are still a couple...she a CEO of a giant Martha Stewart-esque crafting empire, he a miserable stay at home dad. But Bea died a few years back, the friends had a falling out, and there are hard feelings all over the place. Then the friends receive letters stating that a reunion had been set up at Bea's meet up at the old house they once shared, to celebrate what would've been her 40th birthday. They of course drop everything, some reluctantly, to honor their old friend and see what comes of it. To say the event is a mess would be an understatement.

This book was an easy read at 332 pages and I'd give it a 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads). I think it would make a good chick lit book club selection, so I can see why it has made all the "Best Summer Reads" lists online. The wheel wasn't reinvented here, but there was a lot to be said about friendships and growing up that I think would make for good discussion.

I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there was a little more than a love triangle...more like a love circle...or a love multi-pointed line in here that was pretty interesting. Colin loved Bea. Annie loved Colin. Lindy loved Annie. Annie tried to ignore Lindy's feelings for Lindy slept with Colin. Bea was irritated with everyone for it. Years and years later there were still hard feelings. This brings up the topic of whether men and women can really be "friends". Bisexuality is also a big unspoken issue, as Lindy has relationships with both men and women, and has a very lackadaisical attitude about love and sex. And is generally just an asshole for sport.

Catherine and Owen's marriage is a very overblown and exaggerated example of the issues many people have when with someone for a long time. You could call them a "Power Couple" if they both weren't so miserable. Growth in a relationship, gender roles, honesty between spouses...all good fodder for readers.

Annie has been fighting with herself for years. Fighting to rid herself of the Texas trailer park upbringing she's ashamed of. Hiding and dismissing her feelings. Trying to be what other people want her to be instead of being herself. Taking pills to dull her inner voice. She needs something dramatic to shake her up and force her to take a stand, for herself. Her character is also a terrific example of our current Social Media culture. Looking for the perfect filter and snapshot to make her life look brilliant to others.

I found Colin's character to be the least interesting. He may have been the most likeable, but in my opinion that's because he wasn't fleshed out as well as the others.

So, another fun look at people in their 40's. It has been a trend in my reading lately! It wasn't the best book I've read all summer, but I read it in two sittings, gulping down the last few chapters late at night because I was curious how it was all going to be wrapped up. I thought the writer did a good job of writing the voices of the different characters, which has to be hard with 6 different and very distinct personalities.

If you are a fan of chick lit books (I use that description with love in my heart, just because it's the only way I know to describe them!) or books about friends/friendships and how they grow over the years, I would add this to your to-read list. I guess Adult Contemporary might also be a good word for it.

Anyway, let me know if you've read this one, either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.  How is everyone doing on their Goodreads Challenge, by the way? I am still behind :( I definitely have room for improvement. Enjoy your long Labor Day weekends!!

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