What mattered was the six of us. What mattered was our star. What mattered is that in this moment in time, we were unbreakable. We were light and destiny and a meteor shower of invincibility.
We were twenty-one. We were allowed to believe impossible things.
(from In Twenty Years)
Quick summary: Allison Winn Scotch’s latest novel, In Twenty Years, follows five friends as they return to their old college haunts 20 years after graduation. They had lost touch over the past 13 years following the death of Bea, their unofficial leader, the one who was solid, always there when they needed advice or just a shoulder to lean on.
Annie pretends that her marriage is perfect, that motherhood is nothing but wonderful times, molding these truths in her social media posts and using filters on her photos so that everything is seen in the best light. Lindy is a famous musician whose lies are about to catch up with her. Catherine and Owen, college sweethearts trying to live up to everyone’s vision of happily ever after, seem to do nothing but argue, as Owen grows weary of being a stay-at-home dad and Catherine’s crafting blog/company is quickly losing steam. And Colin must carry the burden of Bea’s secret and come to terms with his need to be a rescuer.
They reunite on the 4th of July on what would have been Bea’s 40th birthday, forced to confront the old hurts that pushed them apart and the unexpected ways in which their lives have changed over the years.
What I liked: Nearing 40 myself, I was able to understand the characters as they reminisced about their college days, when they had yet to experience grown up worries and responsibilities. As the characters considered the letters Bea had them write 20 years before to their older selves, I thought about how different my life is now than I expected it would be when I was 20.
As always, I loved Scotch’s writing, the poignant passages interspersed with moments of humor. I thought the characters were interesting, and the struggles and arguments among the married couples felt real to me. I also loved how Scotch presented Bea, in her own words at the beginning and the end, and how those small sections, coupled with her friends’ memories, were enough to understand who she was, why she was their anchor, and why they all felt a bit lost without her.
What I disliked: I didn’t mind that I couldn’t truly identify with any of the characters, as I found their stories intriguing. However, I found them to be very childish at times, especially their actions toward the end of the book. It just seemed to get more unbelievable and ridiculous with every chapter, and while I was never bored and did find their antics entertaining to a certain extent, I think it lessened the impact of the novel.
Final thoughts: In Twenty Years is a novel about friendship, love, and growing up. It’s also about accepting what happened in the past, accepting responsibility for one’s actions and happiness/unhappiness, and realizing that the future is a blank slate with promise and hope. I look forward to reading more by Scotch in the future.
Disclosure: I received In Twenty Years from Lake Union Publishing for review.
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