Title: In Twenty Years
Author: Allison Winn Scotch
No. of Pages: 332
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 1 July 2016
“Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.
But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.
Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.”
My Thoughts: I tend to steer clear of women’s fiction, as I am not a fan of the typically lighter themes and the tendency for excessively happy and tidy endings. However, that does not stop me from trying the genre every now and again to see if my opinions have changed. Allison Winn Scotch’s In Twenty Years was, for me, one of those chances I took. Thankfully, it was a successful chance as well.
The story has several things going for it that tipped the balance in its favor. For one, the ages of the main characters was perfect. There is something about turning forty that makes you reflect on your life, where you thought you would be versus where you actually are. In addition, it is an age where most people’s careers are really beginning to take off. You are no longer a new employee and have most likely moved up the ladder to middle or even upper management. You have experience and success to varying degrees. You should be experiencing financial freedom and are in general quite literally in the middle of your life. Ms. Scotch gets that and it shows in her characters. This group of friends are not young and optimistic. They are weary as forty-year-olds everywhere are weary. They have had their successes and their failures, which has made them individually stronger. Those college years seem a long time in the past. Readers who have hit this particular milestone will know just how they feel.
Then there is their interactions with each other. After so many years apart, it is stilted and uncomfortable, and it should be as it is a very rare group of friends that can pick back up as if no time has past. At the same time, it speaks volumes to their allegiance to one another and the closeness of their friendships that they would each drop everything and give up their holiday weekend to get back together again. Watching them feel their way back into each other’s lives is part of the story’s appeal. They are all older, wiser, and more likely to speak up if something is bothering them, but they carry within them the same vulnerabilities and insecurities they did when they were younger and relied on each other.
The best part about the story is how realistic it is. Granted, in some aspects it is a bit of a fluff story; the degree of success for all of them is one such area. For the most part however, the rest is as mundane as real life. Even the ending, while hopeful, is anything but tidy. These are characters who could be your own friends, struggling with feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and anxiety as they work towards taking that next step in their careers, relationships, lives.
In Twenty Years is a very enjoyable novel about growing up no matter what age. It is a wonderful reminder that you are never to old or young to reflect on your life, take chances, make changes, and have fun. At times amusing, at other times depressing, Ms. Scotch’s latest novel is always entertaining while also gentle guidance on the importance of friendships at any age.