Author: Adena Halpern
Published: Touchstone; June 2010
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!