Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it’s a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet—or at least that’s what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it’s the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.
As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.
My Thoughts: This is not a book that I normally would have chosen for myself. The story line just didn’t grab me at first and I couldn’t imagine staying interested (this was a book club pick). Then I started to read the first chapter about Dorothy and I almost turned right around and returned this book to the library. I couldn’t stand it. I really could have done without this character with her shallow and immature dialogue. I found her to be pathetic to be quite honest, 40 years later and you are still trying to attract your high school ‘heart throb’? I know that everyone loves to have a character to hate in a novel but Dorothy was too much. I did push through that first chapter and I’m pretty glad that I did.
What did I enjoy about this book? I really enjoyed the development of characters like Lester, Candy and Mary Alice. I really liked the theme that people can and do change, that who you were in high school does not define who you will be as an adult (or if it does, it is still not too late to change). I was glad to see that not everyone was portrayed as being shallow, inconsiderate, and selfish. As much as I didn't care for some of the characters at least Berg chose to portry them authentically. I could see them being people in real life, some that I may have even known in my past!
For the most part I enjoyed this book but I had a difficult time identifying with the characters so I didn’t really become invested in the story line or their lives like I usually do. Maybe it is because these characters are my parent’s age, or maybe it is because I wasn’t a fan of the popular crowd in high school but also didn’t fall into the ‘picked on’ category so their high school experiences didn’t resonate with me either. I think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I picked it up in 15-20 years.