At worst, this book is nothing more than a set of Bob Greene’s columnesque riffs surrounded by a narrative gimmick and some wish fulfillment (43 year old network correspondent finds true love, sex with 25 year old grad student). As the book begins, that’s about the best I hoped for.
The book follows three friends from high school who, after their 25th high school reunion, take the summer off to relive some of their youth. They travel randomly, whimsically across the country. Ben, the network correspondent, lives alone after his divorce and dotes on his 8 year old daughter from a distance. Ronnie married into money and ended up chairman of a large public company by accident. Michael stayed in their small Ohio suburban town and taught school. Their adult life roles cause some friction for them, as do situations they find along the way. But friendship wins out for some reason.
The story moves along with incidents and asides that don’t add to a larger movement and don’t resolve anything. Ronnie’s father goes into the hospital; Michael meets his first high school love and seems in danger of sacrificing his happy home life to it; and Ben finds out his ex-wife is going to remarry. Then they move on to somewhere else. Ronnie picks up a woman who’s not his wife and she travels with them a bit. They sleep in the Elvis Suite in Las Vegas. Then they come toward the end of the summer and encounter some life-changing events.
I suppose I wanted to see this book as something more than the “at worst.” Perhaps it played to my proclivity toward Bob Greene’s work (see review for He Was A Midwestern Boy On His Own from earlier this month). Perhaps it played to my proclivity to undertaking life-altering lifestyle changes in the summer (or in the spring, as it were). But I enjoyed the book slightly more than I thought I would, and the book was maybe slightly better than the worst case.
But it’s not a good book, and Greene has been wise to stick to nonfiction since.
So it’s worth it if you like Greene’s work; you can find a used copy easily at a garage sale or book fair. Take my word for it; I’ve bought more than one first edition for a buck or two each.