Author: Allison Winn Scotch
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
First Published: July 1, 2016
First Line: "Admittedly, it was an overly nostalgic idea."
Book Description from GoodReads: 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.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with a complimentary paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review: This book has the makings for a great summer read. The story focuses around an eclectic group of university friends who were very close during their school years. Since then they have become estranged due to an emotional blowout that was never resolved and, most especially, the death of their ring leader, Bea. Now, on the eve of what would have been Bea's 40th birthday she has requested, via her lawyer, that the friends meet back in the house that they shared on campus. Twenty years later, each of their lives have drastically changed with their personal and professional lives becoming very complicated. This book had humour, heart and an authentic camaraderie between these friends despite their very different personalities. Emotions run high, conflicts invariably arise and old wounds are opened up as these 5 friends are suddenly thrown back together.
What stood out for me in this book is the characterization. Winn Scotch does a wonderful job getting to the inner thoughts and feelings of each of the characters. They each get their own fair share of page time helping the reader to understand how and why each of them are conflicted with different parts of their lives and how these once close friends have become estranged. They each struggled, to varying degrees, with their own demons (from feelings of not being good enough, to long hidden desires and secrets long buried ...) and the way they have been dealing with these issues reveals a lot about their personalities.
That said, I was surprised that, besides one big reveal, that the secrets weren't bigger in scale and shock factor. I guess they felt a little too predictable but seeing the way the characters reacted to some of these reveals was interesting. I also think that there were parts, particularly towards the middle and Annie's issues, that could have been whittled down a bit. It was at that point that I wanted an influx of energy because my interested started to wane. I wanted less of their repetitive inner conflicts and get down to the nitty-gritty of the secrets and revealing the betrayals.
One must also let go of reality a wee bit with this book. I have a similarly close group of University friends whom I'm still close with and while we're all successful in our own rights, there is not a domestic diva, plastic surgeon to the stars nor a rock star among us. That's quite a fabulous assortment of careers within one small group but when it comes down to it I'm willing to overlook the fact that these six became quite extraordinary in their professional lives because it made things interesting.
Overall, this was a good read. The writing was strong, the character development was solid and I liked how my perceptions of some characters changed fairly drastically over the course of the book. Ultimately, this is a book about friendship. About remembering the past, learning from it and having the courage to move on. We may not become who we imagined when we were young but there is always room for change and new beginnings.
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Author Allison Winn Scotch
Author's website: http://www.allisonwinn.com