The Year We Turned Forty, by writing partners and best friends Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, is a novel which asks the question, “If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently?” As friends, Jessie, Gabriella and Claire turn fifty, they are offered a supernatural opportunity to go back in time ten years and live the whole year over again. For all of them, the year they turned forty was a significant milestone in different ways, and this was an opportunity to try again. At the end of that year, they must decide whether to stay in the present or return to the future.
First I have to say that I should read book synopsis’ better, because I had no clue that this was a 13 Going On 30 type of situation, and it really threw me. I was expecting something very different and it took me a minute to jump back on board. Secondly, I will say that it took me almost a week to read this book. This is not a good sign. Generally when I read something I enjoy, I have to drag myself away from it and I can’t wait to get back to it. I did not dislike this book, but it didn’t tug at me when I wasn’t reading it. I’m not trying to damn this with faint praise, but it was just okay.
The three characters had interesting setups. Jessie goes back to the birth of her son and deals with the fact that he was conceived by someone other than her husband in a different way. She decides to withhold the information instead of telling him, which led to a divorce that she’s still mourning ten years later. Not telling him has its own set of problems, and is just as complicated.
Gabriela regrets that she never had a child, and she goes back to throw herself headfirst into trying to conceive, putting her marriage at risk.
And Claire, well, I still don’t totally know what Claire wanted to do or change, but she does get to spend more time with a mother who died of cancer.
Once they are back, they realize how difficult it will be to make better decisions and also how terrible life was before iPhones. There are a load of 5 star reviews on Goodreads for this book, to which I respond “wha?” but overall, it was a light, sometimes fun read.
Grade – B-