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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

29: a novel
Adena Halpern
Simon and Schuster, 2010

Who hasn’t among us older folks wished to be young again? When Ellie closes her eyes to blow out her birthday candles, she wishes she was 29 years old again – the same age as her granddaughter Lucy – just for one day. And, guess what? It actually happens!

Ellie Jerome is a young-at-heart seventy-five-year-old who feels she has more in common with her twenty-nine-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, than her fifty-five-year-old daughter, Barbara. Ellie’s done everything she can to stay young, and the last thing she wants is to celebrate another birthday, hence the wish. Ellie is very surprised to discover the next morning that she is young, beautiful and sexy just like she was when she was 29 years old. Of course, many problems arise as a result of this strange turn of events, not the least of which is her nosy daughter who musters the troops to find out where her mother is.

This the story of three generations of women and how one magical day shakes up everything they know about each other. While Ellie finds that the life of a twenty-something is not as carefree as she expected, the sheer joy of being young again prompts her to consider living her life all over. Does she dare stay young for more than this day, even if it means leaving everyone she loves behind? Or perhaps she just needs to appreciate the life she has already lived and resolve to make the most of things the best she can. I’m sure you can figure out how the book will end as soon as you start it, but it is still lots of fun to escape into this fantasy for a while.

This is another light and humorous book that is perfect for a busy and hectic December. Some of the characters are a bit one-dimensional, and Barbara, Ellie’s daughter is downright annoying, but the unusual situation and thoughtful comparison between generations of women make it a worthwhile read.


Other books by this author:
The 10 Best Days of My Life (2008)
Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown: notes from a single girl’s closet (2006) -- nonfiction

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen (2010)
Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother's life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she senses that mysteries aren't solved in Mullaby -- they're a way of life. There's wallpaper that changes to suit your mood, lights skipping across the yard at midnight, and a neighbor, Julia Winterson, who bakes hope in her cakes. Can a hummingbird cake bring back a lost love? Is there a ghost dancing in Emily's backyard? The answers are never what you might expect in Mullaby. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (2009)
This evocative debut novel explores the struggles women face in accepting their talents, and asks what happens when mothers and daughters dare to question the debt owed each other.

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman (2005)
A small town librarian lives a quiet life without much excitement. One day, she mutters an idle wish and, while standing in her house, is struck by lightning. But instead of ending her life, this cataclysmic event sparks it into a new beginning. She goes in search of Lazarus Jones, a fellow survivor who was struck dead, then simply got up and walked away. Perhaps this stranger who has seen death face to face can teach her to live without fear.

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