Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

Back When We Were Grownups - Anne Tyler

From a young age, Rebecca is destined to marry her sweetheart Will Allenby, graduate from college and start a family.
But meeting Joe Davitch changes all of that. Thirteen years her senior, Joe already has three young daughters and becomes smitten with Rebecca after seeing her laugh at a friend’s engagement party, which is being held at his family’s house, The Open Arms.
Within weeks, any future with Will is forgotten as the new couple fall madly in love with one another and marry. It’s not long before Rebecca becomes a part of the Davitch clan, looking after the children and taking control of the festive parties that the Open Arms hosts every week.
However, everything takes a turn for the worse when Joe is involved in a car accident. Rebecca finds herself widowed, juggling the family business, looking after the children and assorted family members, and dealing with the chaos that is her life.
Although she loves her family dearly, she struggles to find her place, and by the age of fifty-three, begins to wonder what her life would have been like if she had never met Joe and instead stayed with Will.

What I gained from reading this book:
This is a novel that very much deals with the question of ‘what if?’
Rebecca, or Beck as she is called by the Davitch clan, wonders whether she would have gradually developed an outgoing persona after being shy for so much of her life, or whether she is only pretending to be so joyous because she knows that is what her family expects of her. She also wonders whether a life with Will would have been as rewarding as her current life or whether she would have fallen into a different kind of bliss. These are questions that many people ask themselves when they find themselves at a crossroad, or even when they are long past the moment and are re-evaluating their life and the place that they hold in it. The characters in this novel are very true to life, in that they too question what could have been, had their circumstances turned out differently.

The characters’ arguments and grievances with one another are just as realistic as the harmony that they share. The author is able to portray a strong portrait of the dysfunctional family- one which many people will be able to relate to.

The storyline is a bit slow in some parts and sometimes it is difficult to keep track of who all the characters are, as there are just so many of them (and most are introduced at the same time).

Rating: 6 out of 10

Genre: Family/ Relationships

Recommended for: Fans of Anne Tyler’s novels.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Back When We Were Grownups

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