Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: The Year We Turned Forty

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… -- Washington Square Press

I love fun books for the summer. There are few things in life I enjoy like an "escape read" while I'm at the beach or swimming pool. And what's a better way to escape than with a novel written by best friends Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke? (Isn't that so cool?) Their latest book THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY certainly qualifies as an escape read -- the characters end up "escaping" to their lives ten years earlier for a chance of a do-over.

In THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY, three best friends are celebrating their 50th birthdays when a magician gives them the chance to return to the year they turned forty so they can change their future. All three women had major events occur during their 40th year, and there are a few regrets. They look at this opportunity as a way to fix things and alter the course of their lives. The kicker is that all three have to agree to accept the do-over year and the changes that take place... or none of them can!

Jessie is a mother of three who is still reeling from her infidelity and divorce ten years earlier. Jessie had a very brief affair and found herself pregnant with Lucas. She decided to come clean to her husband, and their marriage was never the same. They eventually divorced, but her ex decided to treat Lucas as if he is his own son. Jessie wonders if she should have just hidden the truth from her husband...

Gabriela is a best-selling author who has sacrificed to have her successful career. Instead of trying to have a baby when she was most fertile, she focused on writing and publishing. She regrets not having a family now that she's fifty, and she wants a second chance to convince her husband that they should have a baby.

Finally, there's Claire. She seems to be the only one without regrets; however, there is a small part of Claire that thinks she missed some opportunities like spending time with her mother before she died of cancer. She also wonders if she could have done some things differently with her daughter who was a bit of a wild child. And then there's a guy... she wonders if he was the "one."

All three women get the chance for a do-over of that important year, but along the way, they discover that their new decisions also have consequences. Will they all agree to accept the "new" year and what comes with it, or go back to their original decisions and life as they know it?

I found THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY to be a cute read. It was fun and fast-paced, and it did make me smile. It was kind of chick-lit for the mom crowd... but it also had some substance. I appreciated that this book made me reflect on my past, and especially my 40th year. I also really liked that the characters were around my age. As I get older, I find that there aren't a lot of fun books with women in their 40s and 50s!

One of my favorite things about this novel was the question of what these three women would do at the end of their 40th year -- when they have to decide to return to their "old" lives or their "new" ones. I don't want to give anything away, but I will admit that I might have been a little surprised with their decision!

I also really liked all three of the characters in this book. That doesn't mean that I agreed with all of the actions all of the time, but I do think the authors created real women with real problems. They also managed to make them complex enough that I had sympathy for them. I think that most women who read this book will either see parts of themselves in these women, or at the very least, recognize their friends.

I can honestly say that I never had those big pivotal moments like Jessie and Gabriela. I am probably be more like Claire -- just wondering what if I had done a few things differently with family and friends. And I probably wouldn't actually want a do-over if given the opportunity. However, I think we can all admit that there are times when we wish we could have a second chance to get things right.

And that's the beauty of this story! For a few hours, readers can escape and see these characters get a second chance to make things right or wrong... and wonder what would happen if we were given a do-over!

Recommended to fans of contemporary women's fiction and books about female friendship!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via Netgalley.


bermudaonion said...

I read their earlier book, The Status of All Things, and thought it was fun and thought provoking. It sounds like this book is the same way. I love it when serious subjects are handled in a somewhat light manner.

Ms. Yingling said...

I rarely read adult books, but this looks fun! Have you read Calling Invisible Women? Liked that one a lot. I'll try to participate in your Saturday kids lit post!