Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Back When We Were Grownups

Posted by nliakos on December 30, 2006

by Anne Tyler (Knopf 2001)

I love Ann Tyler. I reviewed Digging to America here and have read a lot of her books. However, I would have to say that this one is not one of my favorites. Why not? Could it be that the protagonist, Rebecca Davitch, is overweight? That would be a stupid reason not to like a book, wouldn’t it! (I remember not being able to read The Shipping News because of a similar problem.) I didn’t dislike this book, just wasn’t crazy about it. Rebecca, at 53, suddenly feels as though she is living the wrong life; that she took the wrong turn (as in the Robert Frost poem), “and that has made all the difference.” Unlike Frost, she decides that perhaps she can go back and go the other way. It’s an interesting idea, but I think we all know that it can’t be done, and in the end, Rebecca doesn’t (can’t?) do it either.

Favorite line: “She had imagined her future as a single, harmonious picture. But what she had ended up with was more like the view in one of those multi-lensed optical toys that Lateesha was so fond of: dozens of tiny chips of pictures, each interfering with the others.” (page 107) I liked this because every person’s life is a collage of different pieces. It’s never as neat as we would like it to be.

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