Rx: REUNION by Beth Brophy

REUNION is a work of upmarket women’s fiction that tells the story of three childhood friends whose reunion leads them to dish out old secrets, admit their failures, and come to new understandings of themselves as they avoid making the same mistakes they made in their past. Despite going in three vastly different directions, each woman has reached a point in her life where she must make a decision that will alter the direction her life is going.

Faith, a good girl with a dark streak, is struggling with her marriage to Sean, her high school sweetheart, who has become lazy and lethargic. As fate would have it, Sebastian, a high school friend, who Faith had once had a one-night-stand with after a brief separation from Sean, is now a millionaire giving back to his alma mater, Titlon High, where both Faith and Sean work. Sebastian has had a soft spot for Faith since he lost his virginity to her in the eleventh grade, and Sean’s inactive state makes Sebastian all the more appealing to Faith, which calls her to question the decision she made to stay with Sean all those years ago.

Because she has been accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle and has never been independent, Holly feels trapped in her marriage with Mario, where his overbearing family seems to dictate their every decision and the only meaning in her life comes from being a mother. Now that her son is grown, the gulf between her and Mario has widened, and their marriage has disintegrated. While Holly feels like she has no real options, she finds herself lying to an attractive young man at her yoga studio about her relationship status, which leads to coffee dates after class and eventually sex.

All the while, Charlotte, a documentary film-maker who is in the running for the Sundance Film Festival, is happily married to Lawyer, Gabe. Charlotte’s troubles begin, when she finds out that a minor in her recent film forged his mother’s signature on his release form. Since this teen is a major player in the storyline, cutting him would cause her to miss the deadline for Sundance. The only way to get his mother to agree to the contract is if she approves the film, which incriminates her son in coordinating a cheating scheme for the SAT. Charlotte is torn by feelings of guilt from her past, as she discovers a solution to her problem that involves cheating. She realizes she could show an edited version to the teen’s mother, and then change the film after the contract is signed. This ruse brings back the shame she feels from years ago when she plagiarized a term paper and didn’t get caught.

By the end of their trip, Charlotte’s daughter has run away from her community service internship and been forced to join her mother in the Hampton’s; Faith’s husband also shows up, unexpectedly, after admitting that he has gambled away all of their retirement savings. The financial and emotional stress causes Sean to have a severe heart attack, which sends the entire party to the hospital, where they each reach a new clarity with their life struggles. Faith, who decided not to engage in an affair with Sebastian and repeat her high school error, realizes that she loves Sean despite his flaws. Seeing this, Holly finally has the courage to leave her husband and begin a new, independent life, and Charlotte decides not to cheat in her upcoming endeavor not only to set an example for her daughter, but to avoid committing the same offense as she did in her college years.

Each of these women represents very real situations that many women face today. However, the author doesn’t seem to come into her true writer’s voice until a quarter of the way through the narrative after she has introduced her characters. Up until this point, there are a few instances where the writing seems forced as she attempts to impart information to the reader. For instance, she catalogs her characters appearances and personalities instead of simply letting them unfold throughout the story. Once the characters meet in the Hampton’s, she switches to a more active voice, which establishes three distinct personalities and allows the reader to be fully submerged into each woman’s psyche, as she seamlessly shifts in and out of each by using an alternating narrative.

Some comparative titles are The Summer of Good Intentions, The Rumor, and A Hundred Summers. This title will also attract the audience of books like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Vacationers, and Crazy Rich Asians.

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