Thursday, 19 September 2013

Reading The Red Book

Third and last book review from my summer holidays. Enjoy (or not, it's totally up to you!)

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan intrigued me because the book is based on a real thing, a book which keeps all Harvard graduates updated about each other. It's like Facebook, but in a real book. And also with a slightly snobby undertone, obviously. How exciting. The story is actually set 20 years after the four main characters have graduated and the twentieth reunion for the class of '89 is approaching. Four friends and their families have met up for this major event and obviously the reunion brings back (hilarious) behaviours and desires for a lot of things that they had forgotten about.  Intervening the story are the small paragraphs describing each graduate's life (in their own words) and is ultimately a record of how successful you've been. As the story goes on you become more and more aware that although the surface can look perfect, there is a lot of things going on beneath.

This may sound like a really boring book that only caters for middle-aged women. It's not. Or maybe it does suit that group but I'm most certainly not that age group and I really liked it. Ultimately, it's about four very different friends and the different paths that they have chosen throughout their lives. It's also about acknowledging mistakes that you are making right at this moment and trying to do something about it before it's too late. There is a lot of hilarious moments when these characters come together and a sense of relief when you realise that these perfect lives aren't always what they seem. The posh artist has no more money and the perfect mother misses the stage. However, this is not a book about fairness. There is not an equal amount of tragedy and sorrow dished out between the graduates and that is what makes it so much more realistic. And sad. I bought the book because I loved the idea of the real Red Book, but I ended up loving the characters a lot more than the original idea.

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