I have been extremely busy the last two weeks, and were it not for that, you would have had this review in about 3 days, max. “The Red Book” is excellent. Fast paced, genuine, and engrossing, when I got to steal a few minutes to read, it was hard to put the book down.
Deborah Copaken Kogan introduces her four main characters- Addison, Mia, Jane, and Clover- as class of ’89 Harvard roommates about to meet up for their 20th reunion. They’ve maintained contact throughout the years, and contributed to Harvard’s Red Book, in which every 5 years alumni update their contact information and their short biography from the previous edition. However, as these women know, 5 years isn’t easy to sum up in a few pages. Life events aren’t static like words on a page, and as the reunion commences, these four find themselves in many stages of transition. Addison, who has never known financial strain due to pedigree and class, lands herself in jail with no financial means to get out as the family nest egg shatters in the hands of a bad accountant. Mia and her husband Jonathan, a blockbuster movie producer, are trying to find the balance between their age differences while raising four children- three teens and a newborn. Jane is working through the grief of losing her mother as well as coping with her significant other’s infidelity. Clover is desperate to have children, worrying about her age and her husband’s infertility, and can’t help but flirt with an old flame from her college days. Kogan’s writing style makes these characters genuine and easy for the readers to relate to.
Besides Kogan’s writing style, there is also some great foreshadowing that takes place, a sharp sense of humor, and a smart layout to the book. All these elements really help keep the reader focused on the whole plot, rather than just each individual subplot. I appreciated how she introduces characters with the Red Book outline- it gives great subtext to the character without distraction from the main characters. The setting also works so well- all these characters at a Harvard Reunion- in keeping the pace. Action is happening on every page, and it’s hard not to give too much away, but over the course of a long weekend so many life-changing events take place that by the end, the reader wants to know everything works out for the characters.
Now, I’d recommend this book to anyone who liked the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series, as well as anyone who is/was a fan of “Sex and the City”. Aimed more at a female audience, this book gets your right in the feels for sisterhood, friendship, and romance. I wouldn’t classify it as fluff either- Kogan has a sharp wit and blunt style, yet is still meaningfully reflective (although maybe a tad superficially) on life and what you make of it. But even those who are just looking for a quick read will not be disappointed by this novel.