Review: The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke

The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

I loved the idea of this book. It sounds light and fun – three friends return to a year where they made some choices, and they try to make things better the second time around. In practice, this book was a lot heavier and a lot less enjoyable than I was hoping.

Gabriela, Jessie, and Claire have some major drama in their lives – in both timelines. Fenton and Steinke did a great job of creating diverse characters. I loved Claire. She was practical and loving and fiercely loyal to her friends. Gabriela drove me nuts. She was stubborn to the point of recklessness. And Jessie wasn’t much better. Their relationships didn’t always make sense to me, but their actions certainly gave us a lot to talk about at book club.

This book was a little difficult in the execution. Obviously the authors couldn’t tell us the full story of the initial living of their 40th year, so they tried to cover everything in flashbacks. But I found that things jumped around a lot, or skipped ahead too quickly, at times.

If you’re looking for a slightly more serious women’s lit selection for your book club, you may enjoy this book. I liked it, but I was really hoping I’d love it.

Rating: 3 Stars

The Year We Turned Forty
Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Fiction
Washington Square Press
April 26, 2016
Paperback
336

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…

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