Seventy-five-year-old Ellie Jerome is happy with her life, but can’t help feeling envious of her twenty-nine-year-old granddaughter, Lucy. Ellie knows that Lucy has an incredibly exciting life, and has many more opportunities and choices than Ellie did at her age. So on the eve of her birthday, Ellie makes a wish – that she could be twenty-nine again, for just one day. She is beyond shocked when she wakes up the next morning in the skin, hair, and body of her twenty-nine-year-old self!
I accepted this book for review a little hesitantly, because honestly it sounded a bit too fluffy for my normal tastes, but I have to say that I’m glad I made the decision to read it after all. 29: A Novel has much more substance than I expected it would, and while much of the book is funny and light, the core of the novel is a story about women’s relationships – especially the relationships between mothers and daughters.
Ellie is the heart of this story, and she is such a delightful character. Actually, she reminded me a lot of my own grandmother – my grandma is in her early eighties, but her mind is much younger than many other people her age. She has always been very modern and sort of ahead of the times in her thinking, and her and I get along really, really well (sort of like Ellie and Lucy!). Ellie felt very authentic to me, and even when she was in a twenty-nine-year-old body she never stopped being Ellie. The seventy-five-year-old woman inside of her was there the entire time, even though she wanted to be so much younger, sometimes her assumptions and beliefs which resulted from her years of experience just wouldn’t disappear! And I loved that – she was written so very well.
I found myself pleasantly surprised by how everything turned out in this novel. I really didn’t know how Halpern would make Ellie, her daughter Barbara, and Lucy all come to terms with each other and mend the tears in their relationships, but I was very happy with the resolution. While I really disliked Barbara for the majority of the novel, Halpern managed to make me care about her by the end of the novel and I cheered all three of the ladies on as they worked through their issues in the end.
29: A Novel really charmed me, and while it ended up being different from what I expected, it was different in a good way. In fact, Ellie reminded me of my own grandma so much that I’m passing the book onto her now! I’m excited to see what she thinks. 🙂