reading with mamawolfe: Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster

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?

Back to the Future
Back to the Future (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Would you like to read more about Here I Go Again? Please join our online discussion at BlogHer Book Club!

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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    1. Hi Regina, I’m glad I could share a new writer with you – I hope you have a chance to read her book. It’s a nice, easy, fun story! Thanks so much for commenting – Jennifer

  1. I really dig Jen Lancaster.

    I’ve only read her non-fiction, but after this review, I shall read this book.

    I adore books about going back to high school reunions, prom queens, & the people who wouldn’t give you the time of day!

    Superb job, Mama. X
    My Inner Chick recently posted…How Bizzy Got His Meow BackMy Profile

    1. Kim, I’d never read her books before this one, so I’m glad to hear you liked her non-fiction, too. It sounds like Here I Go Again would be just the book for you to lose yourself in for the afternoon! Thanks so much for writing – hugs! Jennifer

  2. Sometimes we all need a break from the rough and tumble reality we call life.

    So aptly describes escaping into a great book, or taking a walk in the great outdoors, or in the case of my most recent read, doing both at the same time by reading some excellent nature essays. Almost as great as the real thing and certainly a reminder, that both activities replenish us.

    1. Claire, I’d love to know what essays you’re reading…I spent yesterday afternoon walking in the arboretum with a good friend, and felt so refreshed afterwards…I was happy to smell the blossoms and have a chance to be outside for a few hours! Thank you so much for writing-I appreciate your feedback! -Jennifer

      1. Not sure why the link didn’t come up in my original response, but I was reading the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie, from her first collection of essays Findings, you can read the review on my blog link below. In 2012 she published a second volume Sightlines said to be even better. I wanted to start with the first volume and have sent me Dad a copy to read as he has visited the Isles himself.

        I also have a friend who took me bird watching once in the south of England and we spotted an osprey (one of the birds she watches) as it came in to land on a small pond, I was unaware of the significance until I saw how animated and excited my friend became. Wonderful.
        Claire ‘Word by Word’ recently posted…Kathleen Jamie’s FindingsMy Profile

        1. Thank you, Claire, for sharing the link to the poetry. I definitely will read your review. I am often inspired by nature, and always have my camera at the ready. Sometimes ideas come to me from photos I’ve taken; the universe is a powerful font of stories, isn’t it? Thanks again for commenting. -Jennifer

    1. Hi Christy, It was a fun book-a good chance to escape reality for a bit, and consider how much our choices really impact our future, as well as those around us. Thanks for stopping by! -Jennifer

    1. Definitely add it to your list-it’s one of those books you can read a bit at a time, or devour it all at once. I thought it was fun! Thanks so much for commenting today! ~Jennifer

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