Saturday, October 2, 2010

29: A Novel by Adena Halpern

Did you ever wonder what would happen if a birthday wish really came true?  That is the question answered in 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern.

From Publishers Weekly (via
The proverbial search for youth's fountain manifests itself in Ellie Jerome, a 75-year-old woman who has employed every available artifice to remain young. Identifying more with her stylish young granddaughter, Lucy, than with her abrasive middle-aged daughter, Barbara, Ellie's 75th birthday wish is to be 29 again, for just one day. When her wish comes true, hilarious problems arise, as the young Ellie must create a new persona in order to enter and leave her apartment in a neighborhood where everyone knows the old Ellie. Choosing to let Lucy in on her secret, Ellie persuades her to be her guide on a youthful adventure in pursuit of stylish looks and a trendy life. While the dynamic duo romp through Ellie's magical day, Ellie's daughter and her dearest friend, Frida, a 75-year-old worry wart, having decided that Ellie was kidnapped, embark upon their own misguided adventure before the old (now wiser) Ellie returns at the end of her big day. With this rollicking, if familiar, offering, Halpern...sets out to prove that you're only young twice.

On Gershwin
Whenever I hear Gershwin in my head it means I'm having a good time.  (By the way, if you're too young to be familiar with Gershwin, plese get yourself some CDs.  You'll thank me later.)
On that "moment"
A moment comes in everyone's life when they realize they're old.  I'm not talking about the day you see your first gray hair or the day you see the hint of a crow's foot.  What I'm talking about is the day when you realize you've grown out of being able to adapt to something new.
On lipstick (Hello, Lancome?  Why did you discontinue Risque?)
I almost had a heart attack when Lancome stopped making my favorite lipstick.  I was on the phone with Lancome for three hours, with four different operators, trying to get to the bottom of why they discontinued my color, when the last person finally said, "No one wears that color anymore, ma'am."  "I do!" I said.
On using your "stuff" 
I walk into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea.  I put some water in the kettle, turn on the stove, and grab some tea bags.  I go into the cabinet and take out a cup and saucer.  I use my good bone china every day.  You should, too, if you don't have small children.  It's a lesson I've learned: enjoy the things you have.
In her acknowledgements at the end of the book, Ms. Halpern thanks, first and foremost, "...the amazing seventy-something women I interviewed for this book.  Your generosity, honesty, and frankness were more than I could ever have asked for.  I hope I've done you proud in creating a character that captures the best of who you are."  I think the author accompished this.  The dialog between Ellie and Frida as well as incidents in the story are all spot on.
Most of the wisdom passed on by Ellie Jerome was obvious, but it never hurts to be reminded again and again about the value of family and friends.
20th Century Fox has obtained the movie rights to 29, so let's play the "Who Would You Cast in the Movie" game.  Here are my choices:
  • Ellie Jerome - Florence Henderson
  • Young Ellie Jerome - Cameron Diaz 
  • Lucy Jerome (Ellie's granddaughter) - Anne Hathaway
  • Barbara Sustamorn (Ellie's daughter) - Susan Sarandon
  • Frida Freedberg (Ellie's best friend) - Olympia Dukakis
  • Zachary - Chris O'Donnell 
If you read 29, please come back and let me know your dream cast!
Rating:  3.5/5 (Fiction Scale)
Dedication:  This book is lovingly dedicated to my mother, Arlene Rudney Halpern
First Line:  I'm jealous of my granddaughter.
Book Extras
Visit the author's website here.
Visit the publisher's page here.
Read a review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty here and another at Book Addiction here.