Sometimes we all need a break from the rough and tumble reality we call life. Sometimes we just need to stop, slide into position, and crack the spine of a good book. Sometimes, escaping reality into someone else’s life just makes ours seem…much more bearable.
When Jen Lancaster’s new novel Here I Go Again arrived, just one look at the lime green cover made me smile. I could tell this book was going to be fun…and I was right! Just like an umbrella-adorned cocktail sipped poolside, Jen’s novel went down easily-just what I needed before grading stacks of essays, evaluating book projects, and turning in semester grades. I needed something easy to digest, pretty to look at, and, sigh, not too heady.
Here I Go Again shares the story of Lissy Ryder, beginning at her 20 year high school reunion. As she faces the reality she has created for herself, she begins to obsess with her shallow, divorced, out of shape and rock bottom self, and in a Back to the Future like time-travel event, manages to return to her teenage years to ‘reset’ her life. I know, it sounds a bit hokey, but it was entertaining-who hasn’t wanted to do that?
At first, I thought the story had taken a dive and nearly stopped reading. But Jen Lancaster’s clever writing, witty language and comforting references to all things early 90s kept me hooked. I began to care about what happened to this pathetic creature! I certainly I knew girls like her in high school-the quintessential “mean girl”, the popular, pretty, never-without-a-date blonde cheerleader type. The kind of girl that, like Lissy, comes back to high school reunions full of faded glory. But somehow, I slid into the story like looking into an old yearbook, each page reminding me of how happy I was to graduate and leave the world of cliques, dating and drama behind.
Here I Go Again tackles the dark side of high school, where each of us struggles to find ourselves in the face of what can seem to be overwhelming daily critiques of our every move. As Lissy says to kids today, “ Save your budding individuality for college…stay with the herd! The herd’s way safer than being out there all by your lonesome with your pink hair and nose ring! Eccentricity is great…but wait until you graduate.” Having been one of those outside the herd, I think she makes a point, but also misses one: being eccentric develops character, something she ultimately learns the hard way. Lancaster’s deft writing allows adult readers to wince in remembrance as well as sit with confidence that not only can we survive the trials in life, but come out exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Lissy’s desire to take a deep look at herself, the choices she made, and how each of our actions has a domino effect on those in our lives, sends a sweet message: we are all connected, and what we do matters. And as the liner notes say, “Karma is the only bitch bigger than she is.”
Jen Lancaster’s novel, Here I Go Again, is definitely worth reading. It’s a good reminder that what goes around, comes around, and we only go around once. Make it worthwhile.
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I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.