Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Year We Turned Forty

 photo Year We Turned 40_zpsrju0931i.jpg

Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Series: None
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 336
Obtained: author(s)
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Poignant, Funny and Endearing
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future. Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he's getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time. Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires. Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she's recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love. But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all… ~amazon.com  

Review: The Year We Turned Forty is about having the opportunity to go back and fix the mistakes you made but do you fix the old ones only to create the new ones? Who's life ever fully goes as they "plan" it? If it does, then did they ever take risks? For Gabriela, Jessie and Claire life hasn't really been what they thought it would be in the 10 years since turning 40. As they approach 50, they wonder where their lives would be if they had done some thing(s) differently. They get the chance to go back to that year but there are some condition: one being at the end of the year they either all have to agree to stay on that path or come back to the point in time when they went back. That could be the real tricky part of this whole second chance.

What I loved about this book is that you can see yourself in each of these characters even if you don't necessarily identify with their problems. Each of the friends' gains something in the year they go back but I also think they lose something as well. This was most evident for me with Gabriela. She went from this kick-ass, take no prisoners, best selling author to a woman who was laser-focused on the one thing she thought she wanted, thought she was missing out on. She was sacrificing her health, mentally and physically, and her marriage. Before she went back, her and Colin had a solid marriage that was built on love and respect. Not so much this time around.

Jessie lost herself when she had an affair and lost her marriage. In the 10 years she's been divorced, she's never gotten over it, forgiven herself and moved on from her mistakes. This is her chance to undo all of that.  While I didn't agree with how she approached the situation by not being honest again. We all know the truth comes out eventually and she spent her year full of worry about when it would happen. I did like how in the end she did learn to fight for herself and her family. Perhaps that was what her year was about.

Now Claire, she thought her life going into 50 was pretty great. She has a man, she loves and is finally getting on good footing with her adult daughter, Emily. She has her regrets but I would say hers aren't as dire as perhaps her best friends. She would have liked a better relationship with her mom before she passed, been a bit tougher on Emily instead of giving in all the time and maybe she would have tried a bit harder with her former boyfriend. I liked Claire, a lot. She seemed to be the most leveled headed one of the group of girls. She knew what she had to do to repair her relationship with Emily and started doing it even though it was hard. She knew what 10 years in the future would look like if she didn't. She worked on her relationship with her mom, even if the ending was the same. She strove to make things different this time, although I think one of threw her for a loop, she ended up accepting it because she knew the alternative was selfish.

I have read Liz and Lisa's other two books and I enjoyed them immensely but there is something different about their writing and the soul of The Year We Turned Forty. It feels like they left it all out there for their readers. They created characters you cheered for, cried with and yes at times wanted to shake but that's friendship. While there is magic in the book, the words on the pages were magic. This book was just what I needed, even if I didn't know it.

If you haven't read these two authors you need to pick up their other two books: Your Perfect Life and The Status of All Things, you can come back and thank me later.

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