Book review: In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Monday, July 11, 2016 Permalink

I’ve followed author Allison Winn Scotch on social media for years. And years. But had never read any of her work thinking it was too far of a stretch from my usual fare of thrillers and crime fiction to appeal.

I’m not exactly sure why therefore I requested a copy of her latest release, In Twenty Years, but I’m most certainly glad I did. 

Book review: In Twenty Years by Allison Winn ScotchIn Twenty Years
by Allison Winn Scotch
Published by Lake Union Publishing
on July 1st 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: General Fiction
ISBN: 1503935248, 9781503935242
Pages: 322

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good.

Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets.

Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster.

Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity.

Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea.

And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

I think of myself as having a narrow genre preference, but then I read historical fiction, or literary fiction (or occasionally even romance) and am agog at how much I enjoy it. Not to mention the fact I’m often reminded that I once read a far wider array of books than I do now.

And it’s that latter sensation that stuck with me as I whipped through this engaging novel in a night.

I suspect I often stay away from ‘reunion’ themed novels because they feature confronting themes and – in this case – the concepts of unrequited passions, dreams and aspirations are things I could very much relate to.

We meet the group very briefly in 1998 as they graduate University and then again ‘now’. There are a couple of flashback scenes to give us some context into the events of the intervening years but Scotch expertly unravels some of those threads quite slowly so there’s a sense of anticipation.

Because of my pre-disposition to crime fiction and similar I half-expected some terrible secret from the gang’s past to be revealed… a murder or similar, but this novel isn’t that obvious.

Indeed, the events in this novel are small. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. In fact it helped with the realism. The characters and their challenges are typical of the lives we could all be leading. Scotch touches on our fear of failure, our sense of worth, our fears of intimacy and rejection. And for our group these are manifesting themselves in a myriad of ways. Forcing them back to the scene of their formative years reminds them (and is a reminder to us) of the people we once were. And perhaps, still are.

I’m a little older than the characters in the book but found them all really relatable. I keep in contact with a group of school and University friends. When we catch up – though years may have passed – it’s like we’ve not been apart. We’ve changed, sure, but it seems it’s almost impossible to hide our true selves from those people who knew us when we journeyed from children or teenagers to adulthood.

This novel’s also very contemporary. Annie’s a social media fiend and knows her Instagram filters backwards. Never confident in herself she’s determined to present an enviable life to the world. And Catherine’s a blogger who was ahead of the pack, but now struggling to stay relevant.

I loved this very relatable (and not preachy) novel from Scotch and look forward to more from the popular writer.

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch was published by Lake Union Publishing on 1 July 2016.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.

  • Donna
    July 11, 2016

    Sounds great. Thanks for the review. I will definitely look out for this.

    • Debbish
      July 11, 2016

      Good to hear Donna. I hope you enjoy it.

  • litreasurechest
    July 12, 2016

    It’s always cool and a challenge to step outside of the home genre we’re comfortable in. I’m glad you enjoyed this one.

    • Debbish
      July 12, 2016

      Thanks Leona. It felt familiar and reminded me of the fact that I used to read similar books once upon a time.

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    July 12, 2016

    I lean towards mysteries too and am always half expecting something lurking in the shadows! This does sound like a good read and I do love the reunion theme. Something about confronting all those issues always appeals to me though I’m in no hurry to do it myself! I’m glad you enjoyed this step outside your usual genre. I don’t do it very often either but I’m always glad when I do!

    • Debbish
      July 12, 2016

      I think I’ve read a few books (Donna Tartt’s Secret History of the Wold comes to mind amongst others) about friends coming together years later because the nefarious deeds of their past have come back to haunt them. This didn’t have the big ‘reveal’ moment of them, but required a little more consideration as a result.

  • Rita @ View From My Books
    July 12, 2016

    Excellent review! I have this on my wishlist, but now I’m going to actively try to get it. It sounds like the type of stories I like, and if you– a die-hard suspense fan enjoyed it (and I’m sorta one also) — then I will too!

I'd love to hear your thoughts