Monday, March 12, 2012

29: A Novel

The title: 29: A Novel
The authors: Adena Halpern
Publication: Touchstone, 2010
Got it from: The library

29 is the story of Ellie Jerome, a sweet 75-year-old lady who makes a wish on her birthday to be 29 for a day.  Ellie feels like she has a lot of regrets in her life, mainly involving being married to a much older man who cheated on her during their marriage.  She's jealous of the opportunities her twenty-something granddaughter has, and wants a second chance to see what it's like to be young and single.  She makes a wish on her birthday, and the next day she gets to revert back to her 29-year-old self.

The premise of this story sounded fun (and caught my eye because I'm currently 29), but overall I was disappointed.  It wasn't that it was light, because I was actually expecting a light, madcap Freaky Friday book, which would have been great.  But not a lot happens in the story.  It has has very little to say about the real advantages and disadvantages of being 75 vs. 29.  I wasn't expecting something profound, but all Ellie does with her new body is get a haircut, buy a new dress and talk about wanting to get a bikini wax.  You would think with her newfound energy and youth, she'd have done something a little more exciting.  She does have a fling with a guy she met that day, but that only comes at the end and it feels too late to really give the story sparkle.  

This on its own wouldn't have been enough to sink the book beyond hope, but the real problem was that the focus was only on Ellie for one half of the book.  Every other chapter described the adventures of Ellie's obnoxious daughter Barbara and doormat best friend Frieda, the kind of old lady who steals sugar from restaurants.  The two women spend the day trying to find Ellie, but their tedious adventures add little to the story.  They are supposed to be characters who experience growth thanks to Ellie's transformation (I think), but they felt like filler because the main story wasn't enough for a whole book.  And maybe that's my problem with the book - once you take out Barbara and Frieda's arguing and all kinds of stuff about fashion (Ellie's a fashion nut and her granddaughter is a designer), you really only have enough material here for a novella.  If I were assigning books letter grades, I'd give this one about a C.  It was okay, but I wouldn't recommend it. 

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