Round two (after The Legacy, 2006) in the continuing friendship of a 60-something foursome.
When the story opens, Lily, the stalwart of the group, has been dead for nearly a year, leaving her old friends to shape their lives in the wake of great loss. Readers who missed Episode 1–in which this Atlanta-based senior clique came into being–needn’t worry about catching up on the characters’ histories, as Green frequently excerpts verbatim large tracts from The Legacy. Even under the guise of narrative flashbacks, such self-plagiarism would be much better served by concise synopses of relevant relational data–especially since the continuation of this soap opera stands on its own. While a life well-lived–the so-called â€œlegacy” of the first novel–recurs as a major theme, here the characters discover that it may take the death of a loved one to jolt the living into ordering their lives. Janet, the dysfunctional shrink, learns to separate more from her toxic bipolar daughter and gains the courage to enjoy her new relationship with her partner, Alice. Suzanne realizes that her current love interest just isn’t meeting her sexual needs and finds a different kind of self-fulfillment in caring for her grandsons. When she encounters a major health issue, Monica, who loses 60 pounds, finds her relationship with Josh, her â€œhunk-a-hunk-a-burnin’ love,” stronger than ever. Norm, Lily’s former caretaker and her replacement in the group, undergoes the most significant transformation, settling for nothing less than a fully committed relationship with a man and admitting that he needs to seek out the family that abandoned him as a child. Though 14 months pass before the four rekindle the intensity of their friendship, they come to learn that, while adequately content apart, they complete each other as a group.
A thoughtful psychological analysis of friendship and aging that’s as appetizing as the included recipes.