Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

The Last Time I Saw YouFrom the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.
To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different—a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.
As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it’s a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet—or at least that’s what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it’s the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.
As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.
In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances.” – Goodreads

In The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg, we are offered a glimpse into the lives of an ensemble cast of characters as they prepare for their fortieth – and last – high school reunion. We meet Dorothy – a divorcee who had always wanted to be popular but never quite got there in high school, and still feels the sting of that. She vows to “wow” her former classmates at this reunion – and to put the moves on her former crush, Pete Decker, whether he is married or not. Pete Decker has made a mess of his marriage and in an attempt to manipulate his soon-to-be ex-wife to attend the reunion with him, winds up attending along with her and her new beau. Pete comes across as the same egotistical, judgmental jock that he was in high school, but is it possible he’s really a good guy way deep down? He’ll have a chance to prove himself tonight. Mary Alice, ostracized during her high school years, is attending the reunion anyway – and runs in to someone with whom she forms a special bond. Could she have finally found love after all of these years? Lester, widowed at a young age, is hoping to run into a former classmate who is a veterinarian like himself. Will he see him and stay within the professional walls he never lets down, or will he find he shares a connection with someone else from his past? Candy was the most popular girl in high school, and has lived in a childless marriage since then. She is lonely and is attending the reunion hoping desperately that she will find someone to share her true self with, to form a friendship with, and to share with them the devastating secret she carries with her.

This unlikely group of former classmates joins together with many others to search for the youth they once were, and to grow into the men and women they now are. People are revealed for who they truly are – for better or worse. Former prejudices and assumptions are forever changed, and surprising new impressions are made. The friends you are supposed to make for life in high school may not have made those connections way back when, but they are coming closer to finding each other all these years later.

The Last Time I Saw You is a charming, delightful novel that will bring back memories – for better or worse – of your own high school days, and of what was, wasn’t or what could have been. Berg paints characters with a tender richness, leaving you wishing you had the chance to be at this reunion yourself. I truly cared for each and every one of these characters – well, maybe not so much for Dorothy – and truly felt their essence in Berg’s writing. Once again I am left with a joyful and memorable experience after completing yet another novel by Elizabeth Berg.

Elizabeth Berg is one of my absolute favorite authors. I was introduced to her novel, Range of Motion, over fifteen years ago and was hooked from that very moment. Somewhere along the way we lost track of each other and I missed several of the books she wrote after The Year of Pleasures {which I also have not yet read}. I am greatly enjoying reacquainting myself with Berg’s writing, including The Last Time I Saw You. Elizabeth Berg has a way of speaking from the heart with a honesty and simplicity that endears me to her. She notes the little details – the ones that stick out to me in real life, but seem inconsequential and that are largely ignored in most authors’ writing. As I’ve read my way through her novels over the years, Berg has quite simply captured my heart and inspired in me a loyalty that has withstood the test of time. You can be sure to look forward to further reviews of her writing in the future.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries Digital Downloads

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