Title: 29: A Novel
Author: Adena Halpern
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Today is Ellie Jerome’s 75th birthday, and all she can think about are her regrets. She wishes she’d spent less time in the sun and more time drinking milk so she wouldn’t shrink. Her daughter, Barbara, is controlling and seems to be obsessed with her mother, unable to live her own life. Ellie’s one bright spot is her granddaughter, Lucy.
At her 75th birthday party, Ellie counts the 29 candles Barbara put on her cake (75 wouldn’t fit!) and wishes with all her heart that, for just one day, she could be 29 years old again. Thinking nothing of it, she goes to sleep that night. But then the next day comes, and with it, surprises for all three women.
I’ve enjoyed Adena Halpern’s previous books (review of The Ten Best Days of My Life), but when I heard the premise of 29, I was a little bit skeptical. I’ve been reading a lot of magical realism-type books lately, so I was hoping it wasn’t more of the same, plus the “Freaky Friday” concept really didn’t appeal to me.
I have to say, I was so wrong in my hesitations about this book. It was utterly charming, sweet, and full of life. I adored the character of Ellie. Her witty remarks made me laugh, and I loved the way she approached life. At the same time, she helped me understand her despair at being old, the physical changes that take over even when you’re still young at heart. I also felt her sadness at the regrets she had, especially when it came to love. I was so glad she got this opportunity to have one more grand adventure.
I also loved that, though this day was about Ellie, Lucy and Barbara had their own share of revelations. Each discovered difficult-to-accept truths about themselves and came to terms with things they might not have wanted to. They all learned a lot about each other, and specifically how they needed to treat one another and respect each other.
29 was a wonderful novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Halpern has really evolved as a writer, and it shows in this lovely book. This isn’t chick lit (at least, considering it’s about a 75 year old, I wouldn’t consider it that genre), so don’t stay away just because of the girly looking cover. It has some profound lessons and is definitely worth reading.