Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reunions: Family, School, and Otherwise

"If you don't believe in ghosts, you've never been to a family reunion."
~ Ashleigh Brilliant, British-born American humorist
 The Last Time I Saw You - by Elizabeth Berg
Midlife can be tough, but there may be no tougher event than a high school reunion, where reuniting with old classmates isn't usually anxiety-free. And the 40th reunion of Clear Springs, Ohio's high school class of 1960 is no different, with former friends, enemies, and unrequited crushes dealing with divorces, health issues, and other problems while attempting to avoid certain classmates and having designs on others. Told from each of the characters' viewpoints, this novel takes us along for the ride as the popular girls, high school nerds, and the former quarterback meet, mingle, rekindle friendships, and gain some perspective.
Saturday  - by Ian McEwan
A successful, happily married neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne is drawn into a confrontation with Baxter, a small-time thug, following a minor motor vehicle accident on the way to his regular squash game, an encounter that has savage consequences when Baxter, believing that the doctor has humiliated him, visits the Perowne home that evening during a family reunion.  “Dazzling. . . . Powerful. . . . McEwan has shown how we . . . live today.” –The New York Times
The Family Man - by Elinor Lipman
After nearly 25 years of mild, self-imposed social isolation, retired Manhattan lawyer Henry Archer is thrust back into the land of the living when a request for legal help from his ex-wife Denise leads to a reunion with his ex-stepdaughter, Thalia. Soon, Thalia has moved in (she's an aspiring actress whose current role is to play the real-life girlfriend of a bad-boy actor) so that Henry can keep an eye on her, while Denise has set him up on a blind date with the handsome Todd (who hasn't yet told his mother that he's gay). Both light-hearted and moving, this charming tale will delight readers looking for a modern-day comedy of manners.
This Is Where I Leave You - by Jonathan Tropper
When Mort Foxman succumbs to cancer, his wife calls upon her four adult children to sit shiva for seven days. Though the story centers on Judd -- who is living in a moldy basement apartment after walking in on his wife having sex with his boss -- the hilariously dysfunctional members of the Foxman family all play important, memorable roles. Forced together for a week, they must face their failures and each other while they mourn their father. Replete with old resentments and erupting fistfights and leavened by many laugh-out-loud moments (there's a priceless one involving a toilet-training toddler at the dinner table), this is one heartfelt family reunion you won't want to miss.

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