Publisher's Note:  

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person." So Anne Tyler opens this irresistible new novel.

The woman is Rebecca Davitch, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother. Is she an impostor in her own life? she asks herself. Is it indeed her own life? Or is it someone else’s?

On the surface, Beck, as she is known to the Davitch clan, is outgoing, joyous, a natural celebrator. Giving parties is, after all, her vocation—something she slipped into even before finishing college, when Joe Davitch spotted her at an engagement party in his family’s crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row house, where giving parties was the family business. What caught his fancy was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon this large-spirited older man, a divorcé with three little girls, swept her into his orbit, and before she knew it she was embracing his extended family plus a child of their own, and hosting endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of The Open Arms.

Now, some thirty years later, after presiding over a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is caught un-awares by the question of who she really is. How she answers it—how she tries to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been—is the story told in this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.

As always with Anne Tyler’s novels, once we enter her world it is hard to leave. But in Back When We Were Grownups she so sharpens our perceptions and awakens so many untapped feelings that we come away not only refreshed and delighted, but also infinitely wiser.

Back When We Were Grownups

by Anne Tyler

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Overall Review:  

It is no surprise that Back When We Were Grownups was once a New York Times Bestseller. Anne Tyler's descriptions pin-point exact feelings and experiences. They are perfectly done. Her characters are familiar and human, especially Rebecca Davitch (the main character). 

Anne Tyler introduces us to Rebecca as "a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Tyler then goes on to share with us the whole of this woman's character, choices, and motivations. 

Rebecca Davitch is completely fleshed out until she is as good as real. We come to know her past and present. We come to know the alternate reality she wishes for. We come to know the potential of her future.

We find Rebecca in the middle of life, all of the sudden realizing she is not being the self she thought she was. It is a mid-life crisis of another sort. Her discoveries about herself are beautiful and terribly sad, but hopeful and happy as well. We come to see that a person is not just made of their character but also is made up of every mish-mashed experience pressed into their lap. People are complicated beings, and Anne Tyler illustrates that very well in her book about Rebecca Davitch.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  7 religious exclamations, 8 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  Children push each other in a squabble.

Sex/Nudity:  Adults flirt; premarital sex is mentioned; an unwed pregnant woman is alluded to; adults kiss passionately, not detailed; a character changes clothes, briefly nude; adults have a mature discussion about sex, vaguely detailed; nudity is mentioned; a character tells a short slightly raunchy story; adults lay down together, sexual tension; adults kiss; sex is briefly referred to; false breasts are mentioned; a sexual reference is made; adults hold hands; adults kiss; breasts are mentioned in regards to breastfeeding; breastfeeding is discussed briefly; marital sex is mentioned.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Suicide, a racist comment, death of a newborn (briefly mentioned), death of a spouse, divorce.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink a few times throughout the book; a few times, adults give children very small amounts of alcohol so they can participate in toasts.

Reviewed By Amber
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