Fiction, Series & Collections

As Young as We Feel & Hometown Ties–Books 1 & 2 of the Four Lindas Series, by Melody Carlson

AYAWF9781434764959_p0_v1_s260x420There is something about summertime that makes you want to read books that go down easily.  After reading Book 1 of the Four Lindas series, As Young as We Feel, for our book club, I felt compelled to read the rest of the series.  Two down and two to go.

Once upon a time there were 4 young girls named Linda who lived in the small seaside town of Clifden, Oregon.  Linda Abigail, Linda Marlene, Linda Jane, and Linda Caroline.  They formed a club and a tight-knit friendship.

Book 1 catches up with the four Lindas, who now go by their middle names (Abby, Marley, Janie, and Caroline) at their 40 year high school reunion.  Life, as it often does, has taken them to different states and in different directions, so much so that all of them question what brought them together so many years ago other than their names.

After the unexpected death of a popular classmate at the reunion, the ladies start reevaluating their lives.  Abby, the only one who still lives in Clifden, is domestic and lives in a beautiful home, married to her high school sweetheart, Paul, yet feels unfulfilled.  Marley, the free spirit, has been living in Seattle and working in an art gallery since her divorce, but longs to be an artist herself.  Janie is a high-powered attorney living in New York and a recent widow who is ready for change.  Caroline is the guy magnet who looks years younger than her age, is a full-time waitress and part-time actress, and lives in the fast-paced world of Los Angeles.  Caroline’s mother also has Alzheimer’s Disease, and upon returning to Clifden and seeing her mother’s condition and the squalor in which she lives, has some tough decisions to make.

Melody Carlson is a master at character development.  Each chapter is named for one of the women, and she rotates through them, developing their individual and intertwined stories until the book is completed.  It is a basic, yet ingenious, system of making sure that each character gets her fair share of the reader’s attention.

In the end you are left with 4 women who are on new life paths and whose renewed friendship fortifies them to make courageous decisions.  Both books I’ve read so far are delightful and not saccharine at all.  On the contrary, the women deal with issues that are very real–aging parents, divorce, loneliness, distanced relationships with children, and the possibility of new loves. Their support of each other makes them each very pro-active as they meet their challenges head-on, with the expected bumps and self-doubt along the way.

Admittedly, these books are very much aimed at women readers, but there is nothing wrong with that.  I would recommend them to anyone, but I think women over 40 would really relate with the characters.  After 2 books I feel I know them well, want them to succeed and be happy, and can’t wait to see what happens next.  Each book is a 2-3 day read. Easy, fun and relaxing. I cannot remember when I’ve enjoyed reading so much.

Book 3 is called All for One, and Book 4 is Here’s to Friends.  There is also a section of the author’s website devoted to the series, found HERE.

9.5/10 Stars

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