- Author: Allison Winn Scotch
- Performed by Julia Whelan
- Published: Brilliance Audio and released July 2016
- Category: Contemporary Fiction
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.
It’s almost twenty years since six students, Bea, Lindy, Catherine, Annie, Owen and Colin, spent their last night together at Pennsylvania University. The proposed reunion and time capsule was Bea’s idea, the letters they wrote to their forty year old selves cataloguing hopes for the future; where they’ll be, what they want to achieve. They were all going their separate ways the next day, Catherine and Owen to married bliss, Lindy and Annie to New York and Colin to medical school. Bea wanted be certain they’d always be close, a family.
Now Catherine heads her empire, while Owen is the stay at home father. Lindy’s rock star status is in jeopardy with up and coming youngsters. Colin, the handsome plastic surgeon, harbours a terrible secret. And Annie, not wanting to face the truth, pretends all is well via Facebook and Instagram. They are all fairly dysfunctional and emotionally immature despite the passage of time, and it was quite interesting to delve into their personalities and hang ups. Bea’s death was one of the major catalysts, Lindy’s self absorption another and both impacted on the group in a big way.
Admittedly, it was an overly nostalgic idea. But, so what? If there was ever a time for nostalgia, it was tonight, our last night together at Penn, our last night under the same roof, our last night as a six-point star. Besides, if I didn’t insist on it, none of them would have been willing. Frankly, and this is the part that somersaulted my stomach, none of them would have even considered it, thought of it in the first lace. Well, maybe Annie. Annie would have considered it, but she’d never have spoken up because she’d worry that we’d all call her cornball or cheesy or judge her in some way for loving us more than we loved her.
It had always been Bea that held them together and, without her, life and personality clashes intervened to break the circle. There were arguments, falling out and friends drifting apart, and now, nearly twenty years since they left college, they hadn’t seen or contacted each other at all for the last thirteen years. Until each of them received a letter from Bea’s lawyer requesting they all gather at the house on the campus where they used to live, for the 4th of July weekend, which would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.
The story is told from the perspectives of each of the characters as they look back over their lives and realise how far removed the reality of life now is from the expectations of all those years ago. What happened to their hopes and dreams, the people they were? Each person holds secrets, each person has issues and betrayals to confront and lay to rest before any of them can move forward and find happiness. They are all, in their own ways, complex, self centred, sometimes annoying, sometimes difficult to like or relate to. My favourite, and I think most realistic, characters are Owen and Colin.
The premise was intriguing but for me, the narrative was a little drawn out and could have been less wordy and repetitive. It’s an easy enough listen however, and I enjoyed the audiobook. Julia Whelan always guarantees an excellent audio experience.
About Allison Winn Scotch
Allison Winn Scotch is the bestselling author of five novels, including THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES, TIME OF MY LIFE, and THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND. Her sixth novel, IN TWENTY YEARS, was released on July 1st, 2016. In addition to fiction, she pens celebrity profiles for a variety of magazines, which justifies her pop culture obsession and occasionally lends to awesome Facebook status updates. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.