The Year We Turned Forty
Published: April 26, 2016
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 2-8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.
Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.
Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.
Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.
But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…
I just had my big 40th birthday at the end of April and thought that this novel would be a good one to start my new decade of life, and it was! The authors, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been BFFs for many years and written quite a few novels together, but this is the first one of theirs I have read.
The Year We Turned Forty focuses on three ladies (Jessie, Gabriela, and Claire) who have been friends forever. They have all just recently turned 50 and are given a special opportunity to go back ten years to the year they all turned 40 and re-live that year. This was the year that changed everything for the ladies in different ways and they all have their reasons for wanting to go back. But will going back in time and making different choices make life better or worse? And what ultimate choice will they make?
This is a thought provoking and also very enjoyable novel. Who hasn’t thought about if you could go back and change something? If given the opportunity, would you actually do it and what happens to the rest of the world with changing just one decision???? One decision can change so much, and it might not actually be for the better.
The Year We Turned Forty may have been my first novel by ‘Liz & Lisa’ but it will not be my last. I will be reading them again!
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Published: June 1976
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 18-26, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.
Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
I came across Kindred when I was looking for books for First Line Friday, and this one has a doozy:
I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.
That first line, the book description, and the fact that it is the first science fiction written by a black woman piqued my interest in Kindred. My library also offered it in audiobook format: SCORE! The only thing I was worried about was when I borrowed it was the age of the book. Written 30+ years ago, some sci-fi books do not ‘age well’ and become dated quickly. This did not end up being an issue for me as I felt this could take place now. You guys know by now that I am selective with sci-fi and even more selective with fantasy. And did you say TIME TRAVEL!?!?!?! That is the kind of sci-fi and fantasy I can read!
Kindred blew me away. This novel will be in my top reads of the year. I was intrigued the whole time listening to the audiobook and had no idea how it was going to end. It twisted in ways that I did not expect and then that shocker of an ending: OMG, I would have never expected that! This needs to become a limited series that stays true to the novel. Octavia Butler wowed me with Kindred, this is a novel everyone needs to read!
If you are looking for answers to why or how Dana time travels, you will be disappointed. Kindred does not explain the time travel, but the strength of the novel is on the time, location and people of the antebellum time period. Butler must have heavily researched for the novel. Dana interprets the how and why her time traveling happens, hoping she is correct in her thoughts.
Since Kindred takes us back in time, we get a clear picture how slavery was from the view of the African American. Yes, the ‘N word’ is used a great deal in this novel, but that was how people spoke in antebellum times. Parts of the novel will be difficult for some to read. This is a novel that will have you thinking about it long after you have finished reading it.
Kindred is very highly recommended.[Top]
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Published: October 12. 2010
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
I love this book so much! This was the first book that kept me up until 3:00 in the morning and then I had to give study halls to all my classes so I could finish it. Yeah, yeah, I was occasionally a bad teacher.
Revolution is the perfect combination of history and fantasy. No, none of us can really step back in time to live out the life of an obscure historical criminal just to see how the story ends. But Andi did, and we can all live vicariously through her. Donnelly does a great job of showing the other side of the French Revolution. It seems like in every portrayal, the royals are the bad guys and the revolutionaries are the good guys. That is not the case at all. As with most history, the Revolution was not black and white. There were no good guys or bad guys, there were people who fell on one side or the other. Both sides were guilty of horrible things and both sides did good things. Donnelly gives us a look into some of the true innocents in the Revolution, the royal children. Louis XVI and Marie Antionette had several children, but only their daughter survived the Revolution. What is truly sad is that their son, Louis-Charles, suffered in ways that no child should ever have to. He was imprisoned, sealed into a room and reduced to starvation and madness.
Andi was an ok character. I felt sorry for her because of the death of her brother and her mother’s downward spiral into a mental breakdown. Her father certainly didn’t help matters by ignoring everything, including Andi. But, at times, she turned into a whiny teenager and I lost patience with that attitude really fast! Alexandrine, the girl in Paris during the Revolution, was a much more likable character. She was faced with tough situation after tough situation and yet she kept fighting and trying and I found her fascinating! Overall, this is just an awesome book that held my attention from the first page to the last page. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and to any teen whether they like to read or not.