Laura's Reviews > Back When We Were Grownups

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
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's review
Aug 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction-read
Read in July, 2009

This book struck me as the kind of book that I'd like even more in 25 years. It's about family, and the complicated roles we play, and the people we become as we're surrounded by people who both love us and compete with us. It was a little thin on plot, but the gist is a middle-aged woman who wonders how she became a professional party-giver when she really doesn't feel like being nice or outgoing. She became a widow early and was left with 4 girls, 3 of whom were stepchildren. And she has been integral to the success of the huge family into which she married, but they often don't recognize her efforts.
My favorite character was Poppy, the 100 y/o uncle-in-law to the narrator. His mix of wisdom and confusion was so sweet and lovable. He also said my favorite quote from the book: "People imagine that missing a loved one works kind of like missing cigarettes...The first day is really hard but the next day is less hard and so forth, easier and easier the longer you go on. But instead it's like missing water. Every day, you notice the person's absence more." I don't know how true it is, but I liked the comparison.
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