This novel, which spans the lives of three generations of women from one family, starts in 1969. Jess James is a free-spirited young hippie. She’s against the Vietnam War, and the last thing she expected was to fall in love with a soldier about to leave for service there. In 1989, Jess’s daughter Jamie dreams of marriage and children, and then she meets a struggling musician. In 2017, Jamie’s daughter CJ ends up with the coolest boy at school, and the world changes for all three women. As the past collides with the present, all three learn that true love is not always where you expect to find it.
The battles the women face include the impact of the Vietnam War, the consequences of incurable illness and self-harm. I could relate to each of the women and their battles. I’m a little younger than Jess, but I remember the Vietnam moratorium protests (and marched in one). I could relate to Jamie and her struggle to connect with CJ, and I could absolutely relate to CJ’s struggles. But it isn’t just the women’s problems that make this novel so memorable: it’s their choices, and the way in which they support each other. Each of them has made (and will make) difficult choices. And whether you agree with the choices made, or not, they are completely congruent with the characters.
If you like novels with strong female characters dealing with real contemporary and difficult issues, then you may enjoy this novel as much as I did. But it’s not just a novel to read, it’s a novel to think about and then talk about. This is the first of Ms Woods’s novels I have read: I’ve added her others to my reading list.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.