Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: In Twenty Years

Summary: 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. -- Lake Union Publishing

One my favorite books of the summer (so far!) is IN TWENTY YEARS by Allison Winn Scotch. Ms. Scotch has always been one of my go-to authors for entertaining novels, and this one is no exception. IN TWENTY YEARS is available tomorrow; and if you are a fan of women's fiction, they you won't want to miss it.

IN TWENTY YEARS tells the story of six Penn students who all lived together and thought their relationships with each other would never weaken. Unfortunately, they learn that's not the case when their group "leader" Bea unexpectedly dies. Twenty years later, Bea's lawyer asks them to come back to their college dwelling, and they all come (albeit reluctantly) out of respect for their friend.

Needless to say, many things have changed in the last twenty years. A few of the friends are estranged, some are still holding torches for each other, and their personal lives are far from perfect. Catherine and Owen were college sweethearts and ended up getting married and having two kids. Catherine is the CEO of her own company (think Martha Stewart) and feels so much pressure to be successful. It has ended up getting in the way of her marriage to Owen. Meanwhile, Owen is resentful that she is never home while he's given up his career to be with the kids.

Lindy is a famous pop star who is realizing that it's not easy to be 40 in this industry. She's pretty much a mess trying to decide what to do about her music career (she's tired of singing other people's pop songs), but she's also at a major crossroads in her personal life. She's seeing both a man and a woman, and she's not sure if she wants relationships with either of them!

Colin is a plastic surgeon to the stars. He is handsome, wealthy, and living in Los Angeles; and he also has his fair share of gorgeous women. However, things aren't as great as they seem! He is still reeling from the end of his relationship with Bea, and he's having a hard time keeping the secret to himself.

Finally, there's Annie. Poor Annie. She wants the ideal life with the perfect husband and young son so much so that she tries to capture every moment on Instagram and Facebook. Needless to say, sometimes the people with the "best" lives on Facebook are really trying to hide the truth. Annie knows her husband isn't faithful despite Annie's best efforts to look and act perfect, and she is still pining for what could have been...

Bea definitely knew her friends and what each one of them would need in their lives. By bringing them together for one weekend, they were each able to look at their own selves as well as discover the importance of each other in their lives; and ultimately, they were able to face the past while also looking towards the future.

I really enjoyed IN TWENTY YEARS. It had everything I've come to love about an Allison Winn Scotch book. It was entertaining, had great characters, and it was also insightful about life. I honestly couldn't put down this book!

As you can see from my very long book summary above, this book had some wonderful characters -- six if you include Bea. And I believe she should be counted because she was so integral to the story. I loved how I got to learn so much about each one -- from their college years to the present; and it was interesting to see how much they grew (or maybe didn't really grow) over twenty years. Granted, there were some characters that I definitely liked from the get-go, while other characters took me awhile. However, by the end of the book I had grown to love all of them!

As interesting as I found the characters, I thought their relationships were even more intriguing. I loved seeing how they interacted with each other (and sometimes the significant others in their lives), and I thought it was an extremely smart decision to have a married couple as well as other characters who were still "in love" with each other. I definitely appreciated how well the author portrayed these complex relationships, and I do think these characters and the way they felt about each other will resonate with most (if not all) readers.

And finally, I loved the messages in this story. They weren't heavy handed but they were there if you were looking. There were so many life lessons that readers can see through the lives of these characters, and I think that a few major events (like Bea's untimely death) had major impacts on them that lasted for years. What I enjoyed was seeing how this reunion weekend was almost an "ah ha" moment for each one of them. When they were together, they were forced to reconcile events from their past before they could move forward with their lives. It was both touching and hopeful, and frankly, made for a very good book.

I do think IN TWENTY YEARS would make an excellent book club pick... especially for those groups made up of women in their late 30s and early 40s. I am older than that age range and I loved this book, but I do think it will be especially relatable to women of those ages. I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but rest assured, you won't need one. There are so many themes to talk about including grief, loss, marriage, friendship, career choices, abuse, second chances, feelings of inadequacy, parenting, and secrets.

IN TWENTY YEARS is on a lot of Best Books of the Summer lists and it would definitely be on mine too... if I had one. Highly recommended for fans of women's fiction!

Thanks to Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I don't think I've ever read anything by Scotch and I can't imagine how I've missed her work. This sounds terrific and right up my alley.

Unknown said...

@BermudaOnion happy to get you a copy!

Kate Unger said...

I love these kinds of books. I'm adding it to my list! Great review.

Karlie said...

I think I would enjoy this one!

Stacie said...

I think I passed on this one as it sounds familiar (too many books for this summer) but it sounds like I would have liked it. Great review!

Savvy Verse & Wit said...

Sounds like you liked this one a lot!