Tuesday, October 27, 2009

'July, July': A Poignant, Yet Suspenseful, Story of a Class Reunion

Review: JULY, JULY (Houghton, Mifflin and Co. 2002)
Author: Tim O'Brien

At first glance, JULY, JULY might appear to be little more than a rehash of the movie The Big Chill. From the start, you know the characters have gathered for a college reunion of the class of 1969, and one of them (a woman named Karen) has been murdered. The resemblance is uncanny. However, such a comparison would do the book a huge disservice.

Like The Big Chill, this book is an ensemble piece. None of the characters truly seem to dominate it, although the story starts off with Amy Robinson and Jan Huebner – two women, both divorced, both alone and both getting drunk and looking to get laid. The women provide a somewhat detached perspective on the reunion (although the reader gets to hear their individual stories and personal problems, too). Their comments about the others help set the stage for what's to come.

Those others – at least seven, along with some minor (but still significant) characters – have various relationships with one another, harbor old secrets and grudges, and suffer broken hopes and dreams, as well as unrequited love. Although this sounds cliched, the story gives a fresh spin on the old reunion formula by telling the story in shifting perspectives and time frames, showing how the characters' lives have intersected and delving deeply into their personalities and situations, thus compelling one to find out how each makes out in the end.

Read more at: http://modern-american-fiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/review_of_july_july

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