Saturday, November 7, 2009
Time of My Life, by Allison Winn Scotch
Do you ever regret marrying me? How many of us have ever been on the giving or receiving end of that question? We all think about it, even if we don't affirm it with speech. And not just with marriage, with everything. We can't help but wonder, what if I'd done this differently, or what if I'd not done that instead of the other thing, what if, what if, what if…
That pesky two-worded question is the basis of Allison Winn Scotch's second novel, Time of My Life. Jillian Westfield, a mid-thirties mother of one (adorable!) eighteen month-old girl, finds herself stuck in the mundane chaos of trying to be the perfect parent, and dwelling on the what if's of yesteryear. What if she'd stayed with Jackson-the-exciting-and-unpredictable, and hadn't married Henry-the-everything-by-the-book-list-maker. Through an accidentally magic chi-unblocking from her masseuse, Jillian is whisked back seven years…before she'd lost her tight abs to pregnancy, before she'd left her successful marketing job to be a full-time mom, before she'd even met her husband and she was living with Jackson…
Jillian gets a chance to redo her past, but, of course, this is not without its consequences. Aside from constantly running into Henry (past/future memories of their life together still fresh in her mind, and forced to act like they don't know each other) and trying to make her shaky relationship with Jackson and his hard-to-please family work this time, other issues that Jillian hadn't even thought about are pushed to the forefront.
Her best friend who, seven years forward, was dead, is alive and well. And her struggles with fertility are now affected by Jillian knowing what happens to her in the near and somewhat distant future. Jillian's mother who'd abandoned her at a young age, she remembers abruptly when she receives an odd letter, contacted her out of the blue. How will she react this time? She knows what her previous future actions led to. What if she dealt with it differently? Better? Worse? She also sees her "old and married, tied down by the kids" boss in a different light. One that only her past/future experiences could brighten.
The concept of this story (we tend to view the path not taken through rose-colored glasses) is one that I think just about everyone can relate to, but I felt it especially hit close to home for mothers. Jillian's questions about whether or not she'd married the right person are what led her to her second chance, but the overall theme seemed to focus on her accepting motherhood and understanding, somewhat, her own mother's bad choices.
Allison's delivery of the story makes it a quick and entertaining read. As other critics have pointed out, her writing is rife with realism. It has its full share of emotional moments, aha! moments, stop-and-make-you-think moments, and a good dose of much-needed humor. Personally, I am not a fan of time travel tales (although, this one is not really about the time travel aspect, per se), but this is definitely one that I recommend.
For more about this novel and this author:
Time of My Life excerpt, Chapter One
Chicklit Club interview