Friday, May 20, 2011

The Last Time I Saw You

I read "The Last Time I Saw You"  by Elizabeth Berg,  last summer and then Sheila from Book Journey chose it a our selection for  her on-line book club 'Word Shakers.'   I have to confess I didn't re-read it as I sometimes do for book clubs if I've read it before.
I didn't re-read it because......(oh heavens) I didn't care for it that much.   I have only read Sheila's review so far, and she loved the book, so I am feeling a bit awkward here, but I guess we all have our own points of view, right?  And we can still be friends, right? 
(this is why I don't officially review any books---I hate hurting feelings.)  (that, and I'm too lazy to keep up)

The book was well written, and I usually enjoy Berg's books, but this time I just didn't like the story.  It was about a bunch of people so stuck in their past it was ridiculous.
Let me back track just a bit...  I liked High School very much.  It was a fun time in my life, but 40 years after the fact, I hope I have moved on,

Here is a review from GoodReads:
From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.

To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different—a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.
As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it’s a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet—or at least that’s what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it’s the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.
As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.
In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances.

 me again.... okay, it was an easy, quick read.  And  it was 'okay' for me.  But the story...holy cow!   I felt sorry for those people.  I mean 40 years after the fact and you think your life is worthless because you didn't get together with the football hero?  It was pathetic.  SORRY!!!   But it was.   Sure, I had crushes on football players, basketball stars.  I loved the pep assemblies and the clubs and visiting with friends.  I loved Friday nights cruising the drag and going to Zips for burgers and seeing who was with who.  But that was only 4 years of my life.  4 years out of 52.  I can't be stuck there like some people are...and it bothers me greatly that the characters in this book were.  That they didn't evolve over 40 years.  That they didn't have good lives.  It made me sad.

What do I regret about high school?   That I didn't take the time to get to know some really good people.  The people that were in band or in science club or on the tennis team or people who were too shy to 'stick out'.   High School is so cliquish, and I think we really lose out on getting to be friends with great people.  It wasn't that I was  super popular either  (what does that even mean?? ) or super nerdy.  I ran with a middle of the road group.  Looking back it would have just been nice to have been more aware of other groups of people.   I really did enjoy high school.  I just don't want to be stuck in those cliques or pigeon holes at my 40th class reunion as the characters in this book were.
That's what the 10 year class reunion was for  ( laughing, right?  You remember wanting to impress your classmates at your 10th!), the 2oth reunion?  We could all relax and be ourselves and enjoy one another.

So, maybe that's why this book didn't ring true for me....if the setting was when these characters were younger, then I could imagine it, but  in their late 50's?  I just couldn't....see it.  I just hope that all of you/us  have realized our lives are much much more that that 4 year period of time.

I would read more of Elizabeth Berg, because it isn't that she's not a good writer.  I've liked what I've read before.  And as far as the Word Shakers Book group discussion goes....It's been so long I can't remember the characters names, so I'm not a very good 'discusser'.   I am stuck on this one theme.
My apologies.


bermudaonion said...

I don't think you're alone in your assessment of this book - quite a few people have said it's not Berg's best.

Brenda said...

I've only read one book by Elizabeth Berg and I thought it was really lame. I have no desire to read anything else by her now.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This is a wonderful review - that's the beauty of books... we all read something different. :0

I didnt love it - but liked it as each of the main characters had somehow screwed up in their life -e either by thinking they were too awesome (uhh... hello Pete) or by not getting out there and being more (uhem.... Lester and Mary Alice...)

You are right - it is sad to think after all those years they still hung their hopes on a dream of returning to where it all began... and oh yeah - Dorothy drove me nuts...

~Jess said...

I rather like her books: I haven't read this one though.

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