Three generations of women share the tradition of wearing charm bracelets to honor the big moments of their lives.
When Arden and her daughter, Lauren, take a vacation from Chicago to visit Arden’s mother, Lolly, a lifelong resident of a small lake resort town, they realize she’s having memory issues. When she's diagnosed with an early stage of dementia, they decide to extend their vacation to help her figure out how to stay in her own home as long as possible. Arden is a frustrated writer working as an online editor who has let life roll over her too many times, while Lauren is a talented artist taking college business courses, due mainly to her mother’s pressure to be practical. When the three women wind up spending the summer together, Lolly shares much of her life story through the many charms on her bracelet, a family tradition passed down from her grandmother and now to her own granddaughter. As Lolly feels the pressure of sharing her stories and memories with her daughter and granddaughter while she can still access them, Arden begins to reassess her own choices, made mostly from fear, lack, and inadequacy, and reconsider the path she has sent her daughter on, which doesn’t seem to be making her happy. Debut novelist Shipman—a pen name chosen by memoirist Wade Rouse (It's All Relative, 2011, etc.) in homage to his grandmother—pulls out all the emotional bells and whistles here; his book reads like a fictionalized guide to living the good life (“Live! Love! Laugh!”) and checks all the boxes—family, friends, God, love, and simple living—designed to warm the heart and fill the tear ducts.
Smooth writing, unabashed sentimentality: if it sometimes feels a little forced or relentless, where’s the harm?