A mother of four daydreams about the boy she loved when she was 16—and sets out to find him.
Emily Hudson’s life seems perfect: husband Peter is a successful attorney and their four children are unnaturally well-behaved. She even finds time to paint now and then in her attic studio. But the passion went out of her marriage years ago, and workaholic Peter barely seems to know she’s alive. It's not surprising, then, that her thoughts turn to her first love, Jimmy Moran, and the blissful summer of 1967 that the two spent in New York. When his unfeeling, alcoholic, rich father pulled Jimmy out of private school and forced him to join the Marines, Emily was upset, naturally, but helpless to intervene. Then she ran into Jimmy outside her apartment building after his stint in boot camp: he was no longer the tender boy she was sweet on but, rather, a rough young soldier. So Emily, a budding peace activist, makes up a story about losing her virginity to someone else, and the two part company, hurt and confused. In Vietnam, Jimmy is profoundly traumatized by the slaughter and hypocrisy he sees. He returns and drifts through a series of dead-end jobs while Emily, knowing nothing of this, marries Peter and moves to Connecticut. As years pass, she toys with the idea of finding Jimmy—and, in due time, he and she reunite, in Washington, D.C., at the Vietnam Memorial. They’re inexorably drawn to each other, of course, for a weekend of explanations, lovemaking, and nostalgia. Will Jim return to his long-suffering wife and adopted daughter? Will Emily shock her husband out of his withdrawn complacency? Will these two troubled souls find happiness and get on with their lives?
Predictable fare, but first-novelist Gertler offers a tender evocation of lost love, and what it means to find it again.