Back When We Were Grownups, by Anne Tyler

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler: Book CoverFinished audio 7-9-10, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2001

Read by Blair Brown

Rebecca, a 53-year-old widower, has spent years living in someone else’s life.  She married and older man with 3 young daughters and took on the family business of hosting parties in their townhome.  They had a daughter of their own and he died after only eight years together.  Now, Rebecca is questioning her choices and even her identity.  She goes back home and contacts her only other boyfriend, hoping to get in touch with the old Rebecca, the one she recognizes. 

There were many things to like.  Who hasn’t thought about the turning points that have led them to where they are today?  And what if we had made a different choice here or there, would we be the same person?  I loved her apprehension at contracting her old boyfriend.  Caller ID has totally ruined hang ups!  And I loved the 100-year-old uncle that she inherited.  He was a riot and a real bright spot in the book for me.

There were some aspects that left this book a little flat for me.  As much as I enjoyed Rebecca’s journey I found myself waiting for something to happen.  I don’t mind quiet books, but this one seemed to lead to nowhere, which might be realistic, but not necessarily what I want to spend 9 hours listening to.  And I really disliked all four of her daughters.  I couldn’t believe how self-centered they all were and really wanted Rebecca to stand up to them or take some responsibility. Oh, and don’t get me started on the ridiculous nicknames they all went by, which only added to their superficial personas.

I loved the writing and premise and the book was good but, for me, not great.

I borrowed the audio from the library.

29 thoughts on “Back When We Were Grownups, by Anne Tyler

  1. Susan says:

    I recently bought this one from the library discard shelf. Tried reading it, but only got to the 2nd or 3rd chapter before moving on to something else. To me, it was blah. I’ve loved other Anne Tyler books, but not this one. I’m glad you agree with me. I thought I was just being picky.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I’ve loved the other Tyler books that I’ve read as well. While this one was good, it was not her best.

  2. Colleen (Books in the City) says:

    I am listening to an Anne Tyler book now – Digging to America – and I am really enjoying it. It is also read by Blair Brown and I think her narration is great! It is similar to Back When We Were Grownups though in that it sometimes doesnt seem to be going anywhere. I think the audio makes that a little easier to tolerate.

    Thanks for the honest review!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Those crazt names drove me crazy! Everyone seems to like Digging to America, so that will be the next Tyler I read.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      A few of hers are on my favorite list, so this one was even more of a disappointment. My expectations were high.

  3. ds says:

    I love Anne Tyler’s early stuff (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist), but feel she’s lost something over the last few years. Thanks for your honest review; I’d like to read this because it’s her, but I won’t hurry.

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