By: Allison Winn Scotch
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 7/1/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.
But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.
Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.
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.A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Contemporary Chick-lit queen, Allison Winn Scotch returns following (2013) The Theory of Opposites with a perfect summer sizzler to celebrate July 4th, IN TWENTY YEARS, from nostalgia, to reconnections—a reunion of friendship, relationships, love, loss, mixed with lots of wit and heart.
Bea was the glue which held them all together. Their last night under the same roof as a six-point star. They all loved each other, and her wish was to come together in twenty years at the same house. She made this possible; however, she was in the only one which will not be in attendance.
Twenty years ago, six Penn college students which shared a house, would come together. A time capsule. Their twentieth reunion. Forty-forty two years old. Where would they e their life’s journey? Would they have regrets?
1998: Annie and Lindy were off to New York. Annie had lined up a job in PR. Lindy was intent on being a superstar. Owen and Catherine were set to domesticate outside of Chicago. Colin was driving west to Palo Alto for medical school. A neurosurgeon. Bea made them all promise, that nothing would change. They were her family. They believed in the impossible. Their star, and destiny.
2016: They each receive a mysterious letter in the mail. Requesting their presence. They had not seen each other in thirteen years. The horrible day at Bea’s funeral. They were all there: Annie, Catherine, Owen, Colin, and Lindy.
Mail arrives for everyone from an attorney in New York. On behalf of Beatrice “Bea” Shoemaker. She had asked a notice be sent to everyone in June 2016. The executor of her will, back in 2003. She purchased the former residence on campus at the University of Pennsylvania. The executor has managed the row house and according to her will - will vacate the premises for the summer of 2016. The weekend of July 2016 on the eve of Bea’s July 4th birthday—her fortieth.
Bea had set aside something important for all. The stipulations—no one could receive the said item until the five of them are all together for her birthday.
From indiscretions of youth, resentments, secrets, fears, dreams, loves, and ambitions. Of course, things have not remained the same, over the years for anyone. They all have led different lives, each with different sets of problems.
Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire. Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster.
Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity.
Colin: Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea.
Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty life.
From five different points of view we hear from each character. From flaws, friendships, and dreams of youth. An ideal beach summer read, with perfect timing for the July release date. What did Bea hope for in twenty years? Who would she be, and what did she dream of? They would do it together, as one. They are the six-point star, now a five- point new star. Family. Friendship, Relationships. Beautiful Fireworks!
Each person will need to face the past in order to heal, and move forward with their lives. Long buried secrets are exposed. Grab a hammock, a cocktail, some quiet time, and enjoy the holiday read of old friends!
If you have read any of Scotch’s previous books, you can expect lots of wit and drama, with her well-developed characters, capturing the nostalgia and youth. Contemporary chick-lit, sprinkled with social media, trends, drama, with music and events of the times. Fans of Sarah Pekkanen, Jennifer Weiner, Julie Buxbaum, and Emily Giffin will love this poignant reunion!
The book reminds of an older movie (1983) The Big Chill, an American comedy-drama film with the plot focusing on a group of baby boomer college friends who reunite after 15 years when one of their old comrades, Alex, commits suicide without warning. (Beaufort, SC) Also influencing the TV series, Thirty Something.
Can you even imagine what you would have in common with your college friends, especially when you get to be my age? OMG—nothing. This book really takes you back at some of the crazy choices we made.
Loved the Author's inspiration behind the book.
July Top Reads
On a personal note:
Of course, when I was in college and in my twenties, I was married, having two babies, diapers, school, homework,, buying a first home, and work. Juggling it all. We either get our fun early or late. "My time" came when I had two boys off to college when I reached the age of forty, divorced, nice career, and living the life of a twenty-something and single. (everyone thinks you are your sons’ girlfriend when you visit them in college).
If I had to do it over, would do it the same way again (with a few more wiser choices). We all have to ask ourselves this question, reflecting back twenty years ++. Something to be said for being 40 and already having your kids in college, versus my son (1975) today at forty. His kids are in the first grade and third grade; the other son, (1973) not even married yet, with no children-enjoying being single. Too set in his ways. You either get your fun early or late – pick your poison. When you are young you have much more patience. Happy with “my way” --sixties and still young enough to still enjoy life, upcoming retirement, grandchildren, and travel. Had a head start at adulthood very early--then you can play later.
BookCircleOnline (YouTube Video)
Bookbub: 12 Biggest Book Club Books for July
Women Writers, Women's Books: Interview
Penn Perspectives: School of Arts and Sciences Video
BookRiot: 5 Books to Watch for in July
“Scotch hits a grand slam with this novel...With wonderfully fleshed-out, relatable characters, this is an absolute must-read that lovers of women's contemporary fiction will devour in one sitting.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Told from five vastly different perspectives of characters who are deeply developed and relatable in their flawed ways, this novel captures the nostalgia many feel for the friendships and simple nature of youth...Heartfelt...Well written and memorable.” —RT Book Reviews
About the Author
I'm not sure how one condenses a lifetime of experience onto an "About Me" page, but I'll do my best. I'm a writer, after all. How hard can this be? Well...
There's a reason I write fiction, not memoir, because I'm not sure that anything I'll have to say here is particularly revelatory. But let's try.
I had a perfectly normal, wonderful childhood spent in Charlottesville, Virginia and then later, Seattle, where I had a funny slightly-Southern drawl but otherwise found my calling among all the flannel and the grey skies. My mom was a teacher who encouraged us to read a lot (and used to send vocab words in the mail to camp over the summer), so I suppose the seeds of literature, coupled with an active imagination (hello, I could have SO been an actress) led me to one day believe that I could write fiction.
While earning my keep as a freelance magazine writer (all of those "10 Ways to a Better Life" articles you read? I wrote them on every subject), I tucked away pockets of time toward a novel. Which, four years later, I finally finished. It was terrible. But I wrote another one that proved less so, and now, a decade later, I'm six books deep. Which seems completely implausible because: six books? But yes, I suppose it's true. Proof: The Song Remains the Same, The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found and The Theory of Opposites, which may or may not eventually be a movie. (But wouldn't it be fun to say that it will be?!) These days, in addition to fiction, I primarily focus on celebrity interviews and profiles, which indulge my pop culture obsession and give me an excuse to read junky magazines and watch lots of tv.
My sixth novel, In Twenty Years, will be released in June 2016. Read More