Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Repeat Year - Andrea Lochen

The Repeat Year is Andrea Lochen's debut novel.

Olive Watson wakes up on what she thinks is New Year's Day 2012. But it seems that somehow it's January 1 2011 - again. Olive has already lived this year - and it wasn't her finest. She made some mistakes, hurt some people, damaged some friendships and struggled at work. If it's really a repeat year, can she go back and do things the way she should have? Make sure she doesn't make the same mistakes? Will her changes affect other's lives? For the better? Or worse?

Lochen has come up with a good premise. What would you change if you could go back and redo a year? Olive's focus is her relationship with her boyfriend Phil. She made a mistake that cost her this relationship the first time around and is determined to not lose him this year. But, somehow I just never connected with Olive. All the right character attributes are there, but I found her to be selfish and self absorbed despite her avowal of setting things rights. Another 'repeater' (and I must say I found this just a tad too serendipitous) with connections to Olive's family is battling cancer. Olive promises to check in on her many times, but forgets or doesn't bother more than once.

The characters I did enjoy were Phil and Olive's mother Kathy. They seemed truly interested in other's feelings and more 'real'. Kathy seems to have moved forward after the death of her husband with grace. While I initially enjoyed the light hearted friend Kerrigan, her actions towards Olive at the end of the book seemed to be too easily accepted and explained away.

I'm quite pragmatic, so I did have a problem with everyone accepting that this repeat year was something that could actually happen. But, the Repeat Year does spark the reader's own 'what if' scenarios. So, although we can't go back in time, going forward and making reparations is an alternative.

Tuck this one in your beach bag for some light summer reading. Read an excerpt of The Repeat Year.

'Though Andrea Lochen had dreamed of being an author since the third grade, she didn’t realize creative writing was “an actual thing” until she stumbled upon the program at the University of Wisconsin. Andrea has taught writing at the University of Michigan and currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. She lives in suburban Milwaukee with her husband and their adorably fluffy dog, Maddy. In her free time, she likes to bake cupcakes and cakes, spend time with her family, see musicals and plays, and read as much as humanly possible."
You can find Andrea Lochen on Facebook.

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