The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert Aged 19 going on 90
David M. Barnett
(ARC sent by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)
Jennifer is a student, studying film noir. With student accommodation not yet built she is living off campus temporarily in a nursing home. The home is, somewhat, unique. It is home to five elderly residents and owned by the Granges. Joining Jennifer are fellow students Liverpudlian John – Paul George ‘Ringo’ and Bo Liu and Lling Liu.
There are a few secrets in the book, and I never knew which characters I could trust. Jennifer, in her opinion, is boring and so takes on a whole different persona in her new surroundings. She is so self-absorbed, I have to quote Hermione Granger and say ‘oh stop feeling all misunderstood,’ to her. She also lies about something HUGE, and when the lie is revealed she doesn’t seem to realise how wrong that it is. When will it click Jennifer?!
The residents in the nursing home, on one hand, did feel like clichés, and Ringo did not convince me as a character, but are very amusing and I laughed out loud at a lot of their exchanges; with the discussions between the two groups about ‘when they were young’, Brexit and how the young are more self-absorbed than their generation. Typical stuff, really.
There is a mystery in the book, and I kind of felt the author didn’t know whether to go all in with that part of the story or not, and so I was underwhelmed by the ending as it seemed so at odds with other parts of the book, where all the residents are bonding, going out and getting drunk, and with everyone working together to stop the home from closing. There is a poignancy to the book, about aging, and loneliness, and in being happy with who you are, and who your family are.