Elevate Difference

29: A Novel

If there is one book that will certainly be made into a successful film, it is this one. All the ingredients are there for an entertaining feature-length romp. The plot is quite simple: a seventy-five year old grandmother celebrates her birthday and, while blowing out her candles, makes a seemingly unattainable wish, to be twenty-nine again. Through the magic of Adena Halpern’s imagination, that is exactly what happens the next morning, with the ensuing hilarity and zany situations–including some saucy details!–which make this day-long trek through Ellie Jerome’s “new” life quite an exciting one.

The “flashback/forward to your own life” cinematographic genre is not a new one, and many films (that I admittedly have not seen) have capitalized on this popularity, such as 17 Again with teen heartthrob Zac Efron and 13 Going on 30, starring Jennifer Garner. Like Halpern’s book, this type of movie capitalizes on the public’s regrets and fantasies about our own lives. Who hasn’t had one of those “what if” moments or wished they could opt out of a difficult situation? Ellie, the main character of Halpern’s novel, upon seeing her granddaughter Lucy at her party, wants to live her life differently than she had: marrying young, a man with whom she does not think she was really in love, and always doing what was expected of her as a lady. And, for those of you who will read the book, or see the film version, I will not give away the ending or moral of the story (of course, it contains one!).

Amidst the book’s seeming superficiality and overt sentimentality, there lies a very real social phenomenon. As our elderly population grows and lives longer, how are older women reacting to the societal changes going on around them? How do they reconcile their lived experience with that of their descendants? Given her young age, Halpern manages to convey realistically the mental state of the “granny” figures in the book and their relations to the younger women and men. She also skilfully paints the granny-granddaughter relationship and promotes inter-generational connections and understanding amongst women.

A former columnist for Marie Claire magazine, Halpern has previously authored two books, the fashion memoir Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown and the novel The Ten Best Days of My Life. She also holds a Masters degree in screenwriting, a fact that shines through in this new novel. A film version cannot be far behind. My bets are on actresses Glenn Close and Amanda Seyfried to play the aged Ellie and the younger Ellie. Bets are now on!

Written by: Sophie M. Lavoie, June 26th 2010