by Claire Cook
Published by Touchstone
Genre: women’s lit; chick lit
Thanks to edelweiss and NetGalley for the previews
5 / 5
I am a big fan of Claire Cook, having enjoyed Wallflower in Bloom tremendously. I was excited to get my hands on Time Flies and discovered that I had been looking forward to another book from her more than I realized.
I was not disappointed in the least.
High school reunions are similar to dentist appointments in that we know we need to go get checked out, but we dread the process entailed. Afterwards, though, we’re glad we were cleansed.
So it is for Melanie, who moved away from her small Massachusetts town years earlier. She and husband Kurt headed south to Atlanta, where they raised two sons. Now Kurt has left her for another woman and the sons are grown, leading their own lives. But when the invitation to her reunion shows up, Melanie is determined not to attend.
Her BFF B.J., though, has other plans. She cajoles, begs, bribes, and attempts to blackmail Melanie into going. For all of B.J.’s force of nature personality, however, it’s the prospect of meeting up with a former flame that truly nudges Melanie to show up.
Kurt’s betrayal aside, Melanie has other issues she needs to face. She has a crippling phobia of highways and will drive as far out of her way as necessary to avoid them. This becomes the symbol for Melanie’s literal and metaphorical journey: she needs to overcome her fears, whether of highways or of being alone or rejection.
Be prepared to laugh out loud. B.J. is the friend we all want to have. She is relentlessly on your side, but she isn’t afraid of calling you on your crap, either. She and Melanie adorn their conversations with cultural references to everything from Romy and Michelle to Thelma and Louise. We are never told just which reunion this is, but given the song titles, shows, and movies, it appears to be around 35 years, putting the two women in their fifties, an age where we know better but that still doesn’t stop us.
The two women meet up with high school friends, discovering just how starkly out of touch they are with each other. Yet Claire Cook also wants us to know that those childhood, teenage bonds are some of the strongest of our lives, because for all of the distance between them, the friends rediscover and reclaim their connections. Melanie also has to reconnect with her sister, from whom she has been estranged throughout adulthood.
Melanie’s fears are realistic and relatable. The older we get, the more conscious we are of mortality, of time running out. We become a little more fearful. Does that twinge signify something serious, or is it minor? We worry about our children, our spouses, our parents. We worry. We have fears. For Melanie, those fears are exacerbated by Kurt’s departure. Now she has added fears: will she be alone? Will she be able to support herself? Will she be a burden?
The reunion proves to be cathartic in ways Melanie (and B.J.) could not have expected, nor in ways we expect. We grow to care about those two women, and that’s thanks to Claire Cook’s ability to write a story and create dynamic characters.
I can’t wait to read her next novel.