Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth! Can I call you Lizzie? OK, never mind, I hate the name Lizzie. (Sorry if your name is Lizzie.)

the last time i saw youElizabeth. You have fully redeemed yourself on this book. I had almost given up on you completely after the last one, which I think I would have liked better if I hadn’t gotten the audio book version. I can still hear that woman’s voice in my head if I try hard enough. *shudder*

This book was fantastic. Likeable characters, realistic dialogue: THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE, PEOPLE. The Last Time I Saw You follows several 58-year-olds in the days leading up to their 40-year high school reunion. Each of them have different expectations for the reunion, which is to be their last. (The assumption being, I suppose, that the next reunion would not be well attended because everyone would be too old? Too dead?) Dorothy wants to woo the Pete, football jock and has her actions scripted for the entire evening. Pete wants to win his estranged wife back from her new lover, but has to escape the hospital to go, as he’s just had a heart attack. Lester, a veterinarian  wants to talk shop with a fellow animal doc. And so on. For many of them, this is the first reunion they have been to – so they have 40 years of separation between them.

Berg deftly gives us a glimpse into the lives of her central characters and explores the relationships you have with people in your past. Some believe that everything will naturally be the same — that people haven’t changed from who they were back then. And, some haven’t! But others have changed radically – for instance, the ‘loose” girl at school now has a medical and law degree, and wants to show her classmates how midjudged she was. The popular girl is still reeling from a grim cancer diagnosis and regrets that she has no close girl friends. Pete, the jock in high school, still has some frat boy characteristics, but also shows a kinder, gentler side.

Of course, at the reunion, nothing goes as anyone has intended, but new relationships are formed. And finally, the characters explore what makes them all tick.

Are you still close with your high school friends? In the age of Facebook, I could tell you what most of mine had for dinner. But as adults, there’s something special about those relationships we had when we were young. When we meet at reunions or chance get-togethers, we easily slip into a closeness that was suspended in time, renewed. That’s what happens to these characters. Even those who weren’t close 40 years ago find comfort in their classmates now.

I enjoyed every moment of this book, and I am back in Elizabeth Berg’s corner. So glad this book chose me at the library.

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