Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: 29

Author: Adena Halpern

Format: Paperback
Published: Touchstone; June 2010
Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction
Grade: A
Source: Personal copy

Synopsis: The proverbial search for youth's fountain manifests itself in Ellie Jerome, a 75-year-old woman who has employed every available artifice to remain young. Identifying more with her stylish young granddaughter, Lucy, than with her abrasive middle-aged daughter, Barbara, Ellie's 75th birthday wish is to be 29 again, for just one day. When her wish comes true, hilarious problems arise, as the young Ellie must create a new persona in order to enter and leave her apartment in a neighborhood where everyone knows the old Ellie. Choosing to let Lucy in on her secret, Ellie persuades her to be her guide on a youthful adventure in pursuit of stylish looks and a trendy life. While the dynamic duo romp through Ellie's magical day, Ellie's daughter and her dearest friend, Frida, a 75-year-old worry wart, having decided that Ellie was kidnapped, embark upon their own misguided adventure before the old (now wiser) Ellie returns at the end of her big day. 

My Take: When I saw the title of this book I knew that I had to read it this year because alas, I too am 29. If this book wasn't speaking to me I figured then who was it for? So I picked up a copy a few months back and knew I needed to schedule it in before I (gasp, I don't even know if I want to say it out loud) turn 30 in a couple of months. I am so happy I did. This book was just the kind of light-hearted, fast read I was looking for this summer.

Our narrator and leading lady, Ellie starts out by telling us what life is like as a 75-year-old woman and also what her life was like through the years. I found the first couple of chapters mesmerizing and I instantly knew that I wanted to be friends with Ellie. She is telling the story like I've always wished my own grandmothers would reflect upon their youth and early married years, sprinkling in lessons learned with hard learned facts about 'the way it was'. As a historical fiction fanatic this part appealed to me like crazy. Ellie wants nothing more than to know what might have been because her life, as perhaps many young women's also were, was prescribed for her without a lot of free choice. She wishes on her birthday that she could know, for just one day, what it would be like to relive her life as a 29-year-old in the present day, not in the past, because she feels women these days have much more choice.

Well, guess what? I guess wishes really do come true, or at least Ellie's does. She wakes up after her birthday as a fresh faced 29-year-old and can't believe her luck! At first she thinks she might have died but once reality hits she decides she better grab this day by the horns and fit in as much as she can while the getting is good. With her beloved granddaughter in tow she hits the town. It's wonderful to see the younger world through Ellie's mature eyes.

Meanwhile, Ellie's daughter Barbara and best friend Frida freak out! While they go in pursuit of their missing friend and mother having minor panic attacks that I could have done without, the rest of the story moves along nicely providing lots of teachable moments to remind us that we really do only have this one life to live so we better not take it for granted. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

Cover Lust: A perfect cover!


  1. I turn 29 on the 3rd!! I think I will have to get this!! Thanks for the review!

  2. Oh, my...this one sounds like a great read. I really want to pick this one up now.

  3. The 29 to 30 transition was a lot tougher for me than the 39 to 40 jump. At 29, you see it as a turning point, but by 40, you are over it all :)

    This one has a really fun cover, doesn't it? The premise reminds me of several movies though.

  4. If only we could go back for just one day and be 29! This book has a cute cover and sounds like it might be a fun read. Maybe a good read for the beach? Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Omg, I am soon gonna be 29 too...well sort of soon ;) Now that scares me

  6. Ti - good to know! I feel like this is definitely a big milestone!

    Beth - yes it would make a perfect beach read!

  7. What a fun premise! Something about it reminds me of the movie - 13 going on 30.
    Have to check this out. Thanks for the review!

  8. I turn 71 in October, so this sounds like a fun book for the young and young at heart. May have to add it to my ever growing TBR list. Nice review, makes me want to run out and buy that book right now...

  9. This really does sound like a fun read with some valuable teachable moments about life. I have seen a couple reviews for this but none of them really hit on the beginning part which is what actually really interests me the most about this book: an older woman reflecting on the life she has lead. I also love that her desire to be young again is not for youth in and of itself but because she imagines that life for a young woman today is so different than what she experienced.

  10. 29 and 30 sound awfully good to this 52 year old! The book sounds good as well.

  11. We all need to be reminded to grab life with both hands and to live boldly. This one looks like fun.


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