29 by Adena Halpern

29 Thanks to everyone who came to my rescue on Friday with light reading suggestions. I appreciate your comments! I did pick up 29 by Adena Halpern, and just finished it. It was a quick read, even for me. I think I am now ready for something heavier again.

29 is about Ellie Jerome, a 75 year-old widow living in Philadelphia who admits on the first page of the book that she is jealous of her beloved 25 year-old granddaughter Lucy. She is envious of Lucy’s youthful looks and handsome boyfriend, of course, but mostly she is envious of Lucy’s freedom to live her life for herself, rather than for a husband or based on society’s expectations of her. Ellie was of a generation where one didn’t necessarily marry one’s soul mate. You did what was expected of you and you didn’t question it. Now, at age 75, Ellie wishes that she could go back to being 29, just for one day, so that she could experience the freedom that Lucy enjoys.

And that is just what happens.

After wishing to be 29 for a day, Ellie wakes up in her 29 year-old body. She is beautiful and young and single, and as the day unfolds, hijinks ensue. Ellie’s middle aged daughter Barbara and her best friend Frida are frantically worried about what could have happened to her, while her granddaughter Lucy figures out what happened and spends a glorious day with her grandmother, helping her live out her fantasies.

29 is a very light read – I kept comparing it to cotton candy as I was breezing through it. It’s a sweet book, but very predictable and full of coincidences that, layered on top of what is already an impossible premise, make it almost silly at times. I liked the poignant moments where Ellie thought back on how she had lived – the wife and mother she’d been¬†– and what she wished she had done differently. But much of the book felt like a Hollywood screenplay and followed a familiar formula. I read the Q&A with Halpern at the end of the book, and learned that she has undergraduate and graduate degrees in screenwriting, which makes a lot of sense. Also, I think the book is being made into a movie – no surprise there either.

29 was a good palate cleanser to get me in the mood for a serious book again. It’s a quick, fun, though imperfect read. I recommend it if the premise sounds tempting to you, but don’t expect too much substance.

Hello FTC! How was your weekend? Glad to hear it! Oh, you might want to know that I got this copy of 29 from the publisher, I think. I can’t seem to find the email trail that led to it arriving at my house, but I am pretty sure it was a review copy. And my review wasn’t all rosy. So there.