April 20, 2010
The Last Time I Saw You
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
2010 Random House
Finished on 4/10/10
Rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.
To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different—a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.
As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it’s a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet—or at least that’s what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it’s the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.
As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.
In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances.
My 30th high school reunion is this summer and I haven't decided if I'm going to go or not. I've only attended one (the 10th) and, quite honestly, it was a little boring. I've reconnected with a few friends via Facebook, but most of the people I hung around with were a few years ahead of me. I'm sure it'd be fun to catch up with some of my old classmates, and I know I wouldn't hesitate if I still lived in the area, but this would involve more than just hopping in the car and heading out to Del Mar. And yet, what a perfect excuse for a trip to Southern California! :)
In her new novel, Berg peoples the story with shallow and superficial characters, stereotypical situations and silly dialogue ("That's for me to know and you to find out."). I was so pleased with her previous novel (Home Safe) and quickly grabbed a copy of The Last Time I Saw You, hoping for another gem. While lacking substance and peopled with forgettable characters, I still managed to zip through this fluffy read in a day or so. With 20 novels under her belt, perhaps it's time to take a break.
Final thoughts: Beach read!