Monday, July 5, 2010
Book 16: the last time i saw you
My reading is really tapering off unfortunately. It has a lot to do with summer and just being so busy, and kids who don't go to bed until their mother is about to pass out. But this is the other problem: I am part-way through a couple of those books that I keep meaning to read: a parenting book, and one with a fascinating title that has sat on my shelf for too long because I just can't get into it . . . and so reading becomes somewhat of an effort and I just don't immerse myself like I do with a really great book.
the last time i saw you by Elizabeth Berg is a book you can jump into and not set down until it's finished, and this was the perfect weekend to indulge myself. I had read Berg before, but the subject was a little depressing and this book was just so much fun. She is a master at developing a character with just a stroke of detail, and each person in the story was so layered with both foolishness and virtue, making them very believable and even the most idiotic somehow endearing.
The story is about a 40 year High School class reunion, and each of the characters preparing for this big event, the last reunion their class would have. Every high school stereotype was represented: the jock, the cheerleader, the nerds, the cliques . . . and the common theme was that nobody's life had turned out the way they'd hoped. Every character was either divorced or in a terrible marriage, with the exception of a widower who'd never remarried and a nerdy "old maid" type who end up together (of course), and they're all hoping to find something or rekindle an old flame at the reunion . .. it all sounds rather cliche, and I suppose it is but it is true, too, and Berg is a master at telling these stories we are all so familiar with.
The really interesting thing to me is why something like a class reunion can stir so many common emotions: regret, hope, longing . . . and how after so many years, people really don't change! I wonder what it is about a class reunion that can cause this- really, it's only four years spent with people you really never got to know, at a time when you didn't even know yourself . . . maybe it's the peak of possibility, the time before people begin to make their mistakes and misfortunes, back when life still seemed so conquerable, and you yourself seemed immortal . . . and so looking back, the people you once knew seem larger than life, and a chance to reconnect with them seems so magical . . . though the reader can see how flawed and steeped in their own mistakes and failures every person is.
It was a really fun book, and I could relate to it in many ways but I can't wait to let my mom read it, because I think it will be especially enjoyable for people around that age.
My own fifteen year class reunion is this year, and will I go? No I don't think so. Maybe I'll go to the 40.