Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

This was an interesting novel about a stereotypical set of characters you would expect to find in the halls of any high school who attend their 40th high school reunion. they are all there: the class jock/heartthrob, the blonde cheerleader beauty queen, the nerd, the social misfit etc. The story shows how things change and how they stay the same, and how the way we perceive people is sometimes quite different from how they really are. Through the pages of Ms. Berg's novel we get to see how their lives turned out and what their hopes and dreams are now as in middle age they revisit the high school years that were supposed to be the happiest days of their lives and every one of them stood poised on the brink of a bright future.

Divorcee Dorothy hopes to have one last chance to fulfill her fantasy of attracting the high school football star, Pete, the boy all the girls were mad about. Poor plain Mary Alice, the social outcast who was always made fun of and left out, is still alone, but we discover she never minded as much as others thought, and that she has made peace with her solitary existence. Brainy nerd Lester, now a widowed veterinarian, is content with the single life since he has never found a worthy successor to fill his late wife's shoes. And Candy the class beauty queen married well and became an obedient society wife with no children (her husband didn't want them) and gave up her dream of being a nurse. The most popular girl in school has no friends, except her pet bulldog, Esther, only numerous acquaintances. Then there is Pete, the school's star jock, now a middle-aged man juggling a mistress and a wife, who regrets that he can't turn back the clock, but he won't let a heart attack stop him from attending the reunion and making one last attempt to win back his wife.

The Last Time I Saw You is a book of surprising revelations, of saying farewell to old dreams and hello to new beginnings. Though the characters represent the stereotypes that can be found in any school, behind these facades lurk surprisingly real human beings, all realistically rendered. This is an enjoyable read that makes a person think, but not enough to ever induce me to attend any of my high school reunions.

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