Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where Have I Been Since July 1 AND . . . Love Is Better The Second Time Around: "Turning Thirty-Twelve" by Sandy James

Yes, the Independence Day rush is over and we are now well and truly putting away the flags, the fireworks, etc. and moving on into the summer heat. We always have a town parade in the small rural community outside Los Angeles where I live, and it is an absolute hoot. Lots of pick-up trucks decorated, "royal courts" of queens from various localities around--some with so few population that I am astounded that they can find enough teenage girls to even enter the Miss Wherever contest. But they are in our parade, for sure!! Lots of antique tractors, horses, hay wagons with local guitar bands, church groups advertising Vacation Bible School, community organizations, and the local dance studio brings all its students to do what is usually a very creative dance routine all the way down Crown Valley Road--about two and a half miles. By this time every years, the celestial thermostat has gone up and we are looking at some hefty temperatures--90-100 degrees by noon. This year we have the Southern California monsoons that come up from the Baja California area of Mexico, and we endured about a week of AWFUL humidity. We are used to
12-20% humidity throughout the months of June through November. Having the 70-80% humidity that we had this past week makes us all feel like we are carrying a bag of bricks on our chests. Needless to say, hubby and I sneaked home afterward, just in case anyone in our friend circle or our family circle saw us and suggested we come celebrate with them. No Way!! I went home to my cool house and put my feet up and that is how I celebrated July 4th. I was still tired on the 5th and the 6th, but that is not unusual either.

Later that day I began reading another wonderful Sandy James novel that turned out to be one of my favorites of those she has recently published. Turning Twenty-Twelve deals realistically with the experiences of two 40-plus individuals who have both suffered significant loss. Jackie has had her husband of 20 plus years declare that he has finally found his "soul-mate" who happened to be his nubile young secretary and who is now pregnant with his baby, so of course, he has to marry her. The marriage was probably in deep doo-doo anyway, as he was the kind of person who
really wasn't interested much in Jackie's level of satisfaction with any aspect of their marriage, and she was just about done. Mark was a widower whose wife had died recently of cancer and whose daughter is one of Jackie's high school students. Both Jackie and Mark have kids in college. They meet because some of Jackie's friends are insisting she have "one more" blind date--almost guaranteeing that this one will not be a total bust--before giving up on the dating thing. The spark is definitely there, and yet there are a truck-load of problems facing these two.

Ms James has written a novel that is very open about dealing with the issues that face individuals who are past society's best age and who, according to many, have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. They both know they are young enough to crave a real love relationship with all its expressions, but they also face the censure of their kids, the opinions of friends, the worries about getting old and losing looks and figure (men as well as women), and trying to also let go of the past. This was a significant problem for Mark--far more than for Jackie. In her case, it was the ex who found out that he had made one whopper of a mistake. After all, Jackie "took care of him" whereas the new spouse took care of herself. This is a novel that has, in my opinion, hit the ball "out of the park" in facing what may be the realities of second love relationships. It is also about trust--and in Jackie and Mark's case, their situation is made even more complicated when their two children meet at college and begin dating. That's a real shocker that comes into the story as do some other happenings that almost derail them, even after they end up married.

Far too many people live in the mythic hope that "love conquers all." It doesn't! Dealing with the difficulties--the emotional potholes, if you will of bringing two people together as they drag along their personal habits, being "set in their ways" as many are, their grown-up kids, their differing views on parenting, etc. can be challenging--that is the nicest word I can think of. And as one who must encounter these kinds of situations professionally in real life, I was particularly interested in reading how Ms James worked through these challenges and brought Jackie and Mark through some pretty deep waters.

This is a really great read. I hope that even though it has been around for a couple of years, you will go back and find this one. It is definitely "a keeper." It will challenge your mind, entertain, and in many ways, warm your heart. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.


Sandy James said...
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Sandy James said...

So happy to have you review one of my books again!! I'm glad you loved the story so much!! :)

Katt said...

I read this one a while back and loved it. REAL people making life work!