Read Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler Online

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The latest #1 New York Times bestseller by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Accidental Tourist is now the subject of a Hallmark Hall of Fame television film, set to air in November 2004 on CBS, starring Blythe Danner, Peter Fonda, and Faye Dunaway....

Title : Back When We Were Grownups
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345477248
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Back When We Were Grownups Reviews

  • ANGELA
    2018-11-19 23:23

    I can see how some would think this book doesnt live up to its potential- but i think thats the whole point and they are missing the point,as well as Anne Tyler's genius. Anne Tyler purposefully captures the lives of people who seemingly may not live up to their potential- alot of her themes are based on how in life things hardly ever turn out how we think they should- and that this is not necessarily bad or good its just the way it is...I think the beauty of this book is that Rebecca doesnt go out and dye her hair red and move to Hawaii and meet a new handsome divorcee and begin a new career at 53....the beauty is she accepts her life- and stops wondering, hoping, wishing, that only "if" she had made other choices she would have been the person she was meant to be...thats a proposterous notion in my opinion bc she IS the person she was meant to be and she IS who she IS...and in the end i think she finds peace with that and that is a beautiful thing- bc I think thats when someone can really start be happy....this is what I love Anne Tyler for...she makes you think....

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-12-06 21:10

    Onvan : Back When We Were Grownups - Nevisande : Anne Tyler - ISBN : 345477243 - ISBN13 : 9780345477248 - Dar 336 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2001

  • Megan Simper
    2018-11-15 04:11

    I've known for a while now that my life will turn out to be nothing like what I thought (and currently think) it will be. Being in my early twenties betrays me as merely knowing this in theory, and I'm sure several more levels of heady realization will hit me as I age. But reading this book was a valuable experience because it made me think about the fact that at some point, I will look at my life and think: "I didn't choose this," and possibly resent it. Rebecca was thrust into a lifestyle that forced her to act differently than she was comfortable with, but because - according to Aristotle - "We are what we repeatedly do," she became that person anyway. She chose to behave as if she were happy, in many ways purely for the comfort and happiness of others. This lifestyle does not convey to me a feeling of helplessness. Her life epitomized the sentiment of Aristotle, and tells me that whatever situation I find myself, I still have the choice to behave the way I would have myself become, even if it includes the conscious choice of being happy.

  • KAOS
    2018-12-03 02:05

    why did i finish this? why do i do that to myself - finish books that have no chance of improving? i bought this because it was marked down to like $5 and i have heard that anne tyler is a beautiful writer and i like the cover (trite, but i do). i didn't like the first 20 pages, so what compelled me to finish is beyond me, but i hated the characters, the characters' names (all cutesy nicknames like poppy, no no, bitsy, the non-chinese min foo, jeep, patch, etc), the protagonist, and how boring the plot, dialogue, and problems were. mid-50s woman feels bad that she broke up with her college sweetheart, reconnects with him, decides she made the right choice. she was both timid and obnoxious, made dumb decisions on a whim, and was pretty much the kind of person that all women dread that they will become some day. why was i supposed to give a shit about her?

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2018-11-26 05:31

    This book was really good because it, once again, is one of those stories that Anne Tyler is best at writing. A story about a large family with lots of dynamic going on. In this specific family, 53-year-old Rebecca has started feeling out of place and she wonders what her life would've been like if she had chosen another path. This is a story about doubt and hope. Right from the beginning, I was screaming at Rebecca that she was romantizing the past and forgetting about all the faults she found with it back in the days. She fell into this trap which I'm sure a lot of us fall into as we get older: Which is to only remember about the good things and forget about the past. I really liked this story throughout and was only mildly disappointed at the ending which I didn't find came with any resolution for Rebecca. It was endearing to read about her family, though - especially Poppy! And once again I was fascinated with how Tyler manages to write about everyday life and worries in such an enchanting way - same way as always :)

  • Laura
    2018-12-04 01:18

    I think the reason this book has received so many negative reviews is because Anne Tyler represents life in an uncomfortable way. There is no fancy adventure, just a woman trying to live day to day with a blended family and a family business that was not even her's to start with. I have seen the lead character Rebecca described as weak. I think that causes discomfort in some readers. Some people choose to read as an escape from the day to day, and then Anne Tyler manages to adeptly make us face how we can make choices in our life that bog us down. Rebecca is not a prototypical heroine, instead she's a woman who has to learn to love the life she has. In this day and age of drive thru convenience, we sometimes forget to be thankful for what we have--that's why I really enjoyed the moments between Rebecca and Poppy. Their relationship is basically symbolic of the entire theme--life happens...you make of it what you will, and you can still love something that was not your expectation. On the surface this may seem hum drum, but isn't that life? All stories cannot be adventures to far off lands. Some stories don't lead us that far away from home.

  • Mark
    2018-11-28 05:11

    I have only read about three of Anne's books, but in each case, I ended up feeling that she had delved deeply into my heart with lessons about life, loss, love, courage and joy, while making it seem almost effortless. This novel is no exception. The story of a woman who fears she has lost her true self, only to discover that she has been living the life she deserved all along, is just wonderful.

  • Katherine Marple
    2018-11-27 04:10

    "Back When We Were Grown Ups" is my first Anne Tyler book. I received it as a gift from my sister and I immediately hated the cover. However, I opened up the book and was drawn into the character of Rebecca almost immediately. She is such a well-crafted creation. She is in her mid fifties, a widow for the past 30 years and she feels at odds against who she was long ago, and who she has become. She feels like a shadow of her former self. She feels unimportant, like a cornerstone in the family- yet a stone nonetheless. In the beginning, the names of the children were a little off-putting (Jeep, Min Foo, Patch, Troy, NoNo, Biddy, etc) but by the end of the story, I felt like I knew them and loved them anyway. Biddy is an emotional wreck of a daughter, but when needed she reacts the way that is expected. Patch is just a fight waiting to happen, but she has such passion. NoNo is meek and quiet, but once put upon, she turns into a blindly foolish tyrant. Min Foo is a free spirit, with three children by three different men and different personalities for each former husband. But, in the end, all four daughters are oblivious to the quesion on Rebecca's forehead. They are so caught up in their own world's, so used to Rebecca "being there", that when she starts to question her existence, they don't even notice. Rebecca contacts her old boyfriend from high school, Will, who meant so much to her back then, but whom she left in order to run away with a new guy nearly 13 years her senior, who already had 3 children. She was with Will (yet on a schedule of not being engaged) for years, but when she met her husband, Joe, she left Will and married Joe (and his boisterous family) within a few months. Now, that Joe is deceased since she was 26, she phones Will in a pit of nervousness and they meet again. Did she make the right decision to leave Will for Joe in such a rush? Do they have a chance of reconciling now that Joe is gone? And what of this loud, hot tempered, yet loving family that she has been adopted into? Poppy (her late husband's elderly uncle) is endearing. The warmth that she shows when communicating with him, even though he has a hard time remembering anything and tends to repeat himself a lot, is so sweet. What stopped me from giving this five stars? Rebecca's relationship with Joe's junior brother, Zeb. I was frustrated. I wanted to read more about those two. Even though she is in her 50s, Rebecca finds that she still has much to learn. As we all do. "Back When..." was a wonderful book. It was almost lyrical. It has it's funny moments, it's saddening moments, and I breezed through it in only a few days (I've been in a reading slump for the past few months and this book dragged me out) It is lovely. My sister has not yet read this one, and I plan on sending it back to her so that she can see what she mistakenly gave away! Great novel.

  • Bill Khaemba
    2018-12-05 21:22

    “It struck her all at once that dealing with other human beings was an awful lot of work.”I admit that I am rarely drawn to light contemporary, I always expect the adult contemporary books I read to sort of have a darker twisted element but Anne Tyler is an exception. Her books are simply heartfelt with a realistic depiction of family and life occurrence. A Spool of Blue Thread was a book that I read at the beginning of this year and complete loved. I cared for the simple life of this one family through generations and I decided to pick up “Back When We’re Grownups” to sort of seeing if she is still living up to my expectations, even though it didn’t quite reach the other previous book I still got that special feeling through her writing.“There is no true life. Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be. You just do the best you can with what you've got.”The book follows Rebecca as she approaches a certain regretful point in her life, she literally has a nice full family with stepdaughters who love her, a party-throwing business and sort of a wholesome life for a woman her age but she keeps looking back at her life to sort of figure out why she isn’t happy with her current state. Throughout the book, we get familiarises with her daughters and the families dinner surrounded by gossip and just everyday normalcy and with Anne Tyler’s magical writing the reader feels like they have been invited to dine with the family. I highly recommend you try her out because her way of storytelling is a real treat 😊

  • debra
    2018-11-10 02:19

    3-4 *s I enjoyed this audio. IMO, Anne Tyler is usually an effortless and expert storyteller. This title reminded me of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant -in that off putting characters became endearing and "charming in their dysfunction."(don't know where I got that quote from, but I do know I am not the source).

  • Kristin
    2018-11-10 00:17

    This is a beautiful book about a large crazy family that a woman doesn't feel a part of, but is. I don't know if I fell for it especially because I'm all the way here in Berlin so the idea of a messy family constantly stopping in to ask favors and for advice is welcome when a bit lonely and missing my own family or if it was the dream the main character has of being on a train with a beautiful son, the type that is scholarly and kind and a little unsociable and, or if it was my identification with her, a heavyish woman who was shy and restrained in her earlier years and then becomes someone she feels she's not, this merry jolly woman, until she finally realizes in the end that this is who she, in fact, is, but I found it to be comfortable and touching, whatever the reason. And that was an amazingly run-on sentence. Possibly my longest yet.

  • Jo
    2018-11-25 03:22

    I can’t figure out why I finished this book. It was actually depressing, and feels like such a waste of time now. I’d heard that Anne Tyler is a beautiful writer, and the book has a great opening line, “Once upon a time there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.” Recently, I’ve been liking books with 50ish female protagonists (since I’m a 50ish female, I guess), but nothing ever happens to or, really, in her. Also I didn’t like the other characters much either. It’s billed as the story of a woman (Rebecca) who fears she has lost her true self, and has the honesty to face herself and find herself. But does she? She doesn’t do much besides almost hook up with her former college boyfriend who has so many red flags of stultifying restrictive wimpishness about him that you wonder why she wasted so much time with him. She did finally realize he wasn’t for her then AGAIN dumped him without warning or giving him a reason (yick). Her family takes her for granted, doesn’t respect her & she doesn’t do anything to insist they do. She just kind of wafts flatly along. Bleah. So at the end she accepts herself. Good, I guess. But nothing improves. I kept expecting Rebecca to go through some life changes, to be happier in the end. Nothing happened. I should note that a few reviews have compared the book to Austen, which means I should have known better as I really don’t like Austen either.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-21 01:30

    When I was in high school, I read a lot of Anne Tyler novels, and with "Back When We Were Grownups," I've rediscovered my love for Anne Tyler and her tender, insightful writing about everyday subject matter.This book begins: "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person" (p. 3).It's a beautifully written, heartwarming story about Rebecca Davitch, who broke up with her college boyfriend to marry an older, divorced man with three daughters. Now, in her 50s or 60s, Rebecca examines the life she chose and sees the good in it. An excellent, soul-searching, satisfying read.Quotes that struck me:1) "Distance was the key, here: the distant, alluring mystery woman whose edges had not been worn dull by the constant minor abrasions of daily contact" (p. 87).2) Conversation between Rebecca and Will:"'You broke my heart,' Will said ... there she was, magically transported to that starlit evening in 1960 when everything was poised to begin, and meanwhile he had leapt forward to the very end of the story." (p. 134)3) "When she was handed her new grandson ... 'Look,' she told the children. 'He's saying, Who are YOU? What kind of people have I ended up with, here? How am I going to like living on this planet?' She hoped they didn't notice the ridiculous break in her voice." (p. 142)4) "But apparently you grow to love whom you're handed." (p. 157)5) "If this turned out to be Poppy's deathbed, heaven forbid, how strange that she should be standing beside it! Ninety-nine years ago, when he had come into the world, nobody could have foreseen that an overweight college dropout from Church Valley, Virginia -- not even a Davitch, stricktly speaking -- would be the one to hold his hand as he left it." (p. 159)6) "Some people, she often noticed, had experiences in their pasts that defined them forever after, that they felt compelled to divulge to any casual acquaintance at the outset." (p. 234)7) "'Isn't it amazing ... There I am, watching the camera when I could have been looking at Joyce. I thought I had the rest of my life to look at Joyce, was why." (p. 261)8) "Let's say you had to report back to heaven at the end of your time on earth, tell them what your personal allotment of experience had been: wouldn't it sound like Poppy's speech? The smell of radiator dust on a winter morning, the taste of hot maple syrup ..." (p. 273)9) And the last line:"On the screen, Rebecca's face appeared, merry and open and sunlit, and she saw that she really had been having a wonderful time." (P. 273)

  • Erin
    2018-12-02 21:31

    Rebecca Davitch, widowed and in her 50s, suddenly feels discontent with her life and her role as head of the eccentric Davitch clan. She has a daughter, three step-daughters, multiple grandchildren, a brother in law and a 99 year old uncle to tend to... not to mention her job running the family's event business. Rebecca wonders if she is actually happy or if she ought to change some elements of her life.I absolutely hated this book and am stunned by some of the good reviews I see online. I kept on reading it (despite how painful that was) to see if it would get better and it never did. Rebecca is a weak, wishy-washy martyr of a female protagonist who complains a lot about her life but never really tried to figure any of it out beyond wondering if she married the right man 30 years ago. Also, the book is set in 1999, but it feels more like 1899 given how unempowered and unenlightened the women in the story are. Perhaps Rebecca would have been best going back to school or asserting even the tiniest bit of independence rather than sitting around catering to a family not of her choosing. Two thumbs way down from me.

  • Chalet
    2018-12-01 04:14

    Rebecca, the main character, tries to uncover where her real life diverged from the life she was meant to live. Six CDs later, I only wish that rather than taking up with her high school sweetheart, she'd instead torched the preciously named Open Arms for the insurance money and demanded that her ungrateful, self-absorbed children show her a little respect. There were hints of interesting storylines throughout, including some suggestion that Rebeccah's late husband's car accident might have been a suicide. But these storylines don't go anywhere. Reasons I disliked this book (and am beginning to dislike Tyler's work in general) : --obnoxious characters with names like Jeep, Patch, and Ming Fu.--characters discover personal truths that could be cross-stitched on a pillow for sale at a church bazaar. Spoiler alert: We don't have one true life, we live the life we are given. The box for my audiobook says Anne Tyler won the Pulitzer for Breathing Lessons. Was that the one about the frazzled middle-aged matriarch of a boisterous Baltimore family?

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2018-11-29 01:07

    Although the term was never used, this is the story of a woman in a mid-life crisis. A widow for many years, Rebecca "suddenly" found herself facing a life she had never anticipated. Frankly, I didn't understand this part. She wanted to go back to the high school/college boyfriend she had dumped to run off and marry someone else who actually excited her. The past she wanted to reclaim was only that relationship which didn't work when she was young. She didn't seem to be seeing what kind of life she would lead if she was able to reclaim it. I would never want to be 20 again. What I thought I wanted when I was that age bears no resemblance to what I now think of as a satisfying life. Although when I was 53 (Rebecca's age), I might have wanted to make changes, going back to 20 wasn't remotely what I wanted. (35 maybe, but definitely not 20.)So, while I enjoy Anne Tyler, this isn't going to become one of my favorites.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2018-11-11 04:29

    This was my fifth Tyler novel, and falls smack in the middle for me in terms of how much I enjoyed it. I’m starting to get used to her patterns: the Baltimore setting (obviously); the combination of useless males and strong, eccentric females; the splitting and blending of families; the overall sense that everything will be alright even though there’s often muted tragedy and/or being wronged in the characters’ past.Rebecca is in her fifties and has become the pillar of the large Davitch family, even though she only married into it six years before her husband’s sudden death. The Davitches are always renting out their home for their party business, and Rebecca has over the years developed a joyous persona that she’s not sure is really her true self. What would life have been like if she hadn’t become a stepmother to Joe’s three girls but instead married her college sweetheart, Will?She gets in touch with him to find out, but this plot strand doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and in the end it’s unclear whether this character has actually changed or learned anything. I also found all the weird family nicknames difficult to get used to (plus “Min Foo” for a white girl with slanted eyes seems pretty insensitive). So, while this is funny and warm, and a cozy read in the best possible way, it didn’t really stand out for me. There are many great individual lines, though...“The old Rebecca would never have known the woman she saw in the mirror, with the hair like a heap of cornflakes and the ramshackle face.” “she thought what a clean, simple life she would have led if it weren’t for love.”“Oh, nothing in this family ever flowed from start to finish without interruption. Their lives were a kind of crazy quilt of unrelated incidents”“It struck her all at once that dealing with other human beings was an awful lot of work.”(says Rebecca’s uncle-in-law) “There is no true life. Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be. You just do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

  • Cynthia
    2018-11-12 01:05

    Probably one of the most memorable openings, "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person," I've read in a long time. Yet I didn't feel the novel lived up to the full potential of this opening sentence. I kept expecting Rebecca to go through some life changes, to be happier in the end. A new job, interest, travel, friends, love, whatever...instead she just concentrates on love--her first boyfriend Will. But the novel doesn't even continue in this direction. Rebecca had a lot of interesting thoughts and emotions but she never put that into any kind of action and that's what made her a boring character. A doormat to her daughters for babysitting, organizing parties/dinners, complaints and insults --I kept expecting Rebecca to at least throw one revolt against them or her children to thank her, smile at her, or at the very least give her some kind of loving, appreciative glance. And poor Will...so dull you almost felt sorry for him. And this may sound like a petty complaint--but the names of all these characters are all confusing. I spent the first 50 pages going back and forth wondering who was who and how they were related to Rebecca. To end on a good note, the author had great writing style and some of her characters were likable. Poppy, along with everyone else's reviews, was my favorite. The topics he'd come up with in the middle of conversation, his love for his dead wife, his ice cream store complaint, all of it kept me interested. And unlike most of the other characters, he showed Rebecca moments of appreciation.

  • Tina
    2018-11-12 04:19

    Where is this book going? I spent half the book trying to answer this question. I finally realized that this novel's central theme was based on the main characters never ending question in her head about what could have been if only (fill in the blank). It's about the choices we make and how we choose to live with them. How they define us.

  • Maia
    2018-11-12 00:07

    I surprised myself by enjoying this novel quite a lot more than I'd expected, since I'm not the most enthusiastic of Anne Tyler fans (or of these sorts of novels) and usually reserve them, in fact, for when I'm stuck and have nothing else at hand to read or when I'm really, really tired/stressed out and looking for a sweet, slow, comfy 'ride.'Well, on some levels, that this is. From the first page the reader feels at home with overweight, slightly frazzled 53-year-old Rebecca, a long-time widow who has, seemingly 'out of the blue' to her 'true self', acquired a large, loud, boisterous family and the coddling, encouraging personality to go with it. Rebecca--in Baltimore, as always with Tyler--heads a family party-salon business started by her dead husband, a man 13 years her senior whom from the first she'd viewed as a laughing, energetic, full-of-life type of guy who was going to 'save' her from the dull obscurity of her own upbringing: the quiet, bookish only child of an exacting widow, a 19 year old 'heavyset' girl (the way Tyler describes her, she comes off as sort of Dutch milkmaid!) engaged-to-be-engaged to an equally quiet, bookish only child, a boy whom from the first we know is not the 'right one' by his fastidiousness. Instead, Rebecca fairy-tale-like is whisked away by 30-something manly Joe in the space of minutes, as his wife and stepmother to his 3 girls, abandoned by a mother who preferred to search herself in singing and acting. In six years, Joe transforms Rebecca's quietness so that she is somehow the backbone of the family business, family house and family itself, including the weepy mother-in-law, cantankerous widowed uncle and would-be-doctor younger brother. He gives her a child--another daughter, stuck inexplicably with a Chinese-sounding name--and then dies in a car accident.Move forward 20-odd years and Rebecca has never married again or even had a simple date. Her time is full caring for the widow uncle, now close to 100, and the extended family of her daughter and 3 stepdaughters, as well as the younger brother in law, now a doctor. Everyone seems to orbit around her whilst simultaneously taking her for granted--not unusual in either these types of familial setups or in an Anne Tyler story. But for some reason, as the novel opens, in a very Tylerish manner Rebecca 'realizes' she has been living someone else's life (she never points out who) and that her real life got lost along the way. What would have happened if she had not succumbed to temptation in the name of Joe and had continued living her life the way it was supposed to have been? Continuing with school, with her engaged-to-be-engagement etc. She decides she'd have been her 'real' self.So she looks up her old (and only) boyfriend, now a department head at their old college, and the two rather unlikely hook up again. Only as time passes Rebecca starts to feel that everything in the ex boyfriend that pushed her to flee straight into Joe's arms all that time ago may actually have made a lot of sense and in the end, what she learns is that all these years her paralysis was less because she'd been pushed into the wrong life with the wrong 'self' and more because she'd been devastated by Joe's untimely (and perhaps less-than-innocent) death. She has, in fact, been in mourning.When I got to this part--when I understood it--I actually really felt for Rebecca and her predicament and found the underlying sensitivity rather compelling. Not all the loose ends make sense but this is a very humane, well-told story.

  • Rose
    2018-11-12 04:06

    There is the myth of a life of continuous improvement. We all know each person should be independent and strong and that everyone should have the right to fulfill their own personal desires. But those of us who have lived for a while realize how nearly impossible this is and how seldom it actually happens. Portraying that life in all its mundane glory is what this author does best."On the screen, Rebecca's face appeared, merry and open and sunlit, and she saw that she really had been having a wonderful time.""Poppy said. “Because I was always telling him, ‘Look,’ I said. ‘Face it,’ I said. ‘There is no true life. Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be. You just do the best you can with what you’ve got,’ I said.”"

  • Lynn
    2018-11-09 22:10

    A pleasure to read this character study for my in-person book group. It didn't turn out how I'd hoped, but that's how life goes I guess.

  • Tânia Tanocas
    2018-11-27 22:02

    Nunca questionei o meu passado, nem mesmo as decisões erradas, não alterava nada, acredito que só assim é possível fazer de mim o que sou hoje, então porquê remexer no passado se não o podemos alterar? E mesmo que pudesse alterar, as consequências poderiam ser bem piores, então viveria numa constante reconstrução do passado em vez de construir o presente e o futuro.Opinião completa aqui: http://baudatanocas.blogs.sapo.pt/no-...

  • Kelly
    2018-11-12 22:06

    Back When We Were Grownups #BPutting aside the fact that Anne Tyler is a brilliant writer, and that the realization here - that your life can escape you, that maybe you were actually more mature when you were younger, when you were studious, when you had plans - is sentimental and astute and actually genius, the book itself was just so-so. I was able to race through it pretty quickly, but the characters in the loud, brash, clashing Davitch family were tough to love.I haven't read Anne Tyler in a very long time, and I wouldn't rush into another sentimental family portrait, but she really is so clever that sometimes it feels her insights are wasted on these kinds of stories. I would have loved to see her, in her career, try on an edgier topic or a more dangerous protagonist.

  • Joy H.
    2018-12-06 22:30

    Added 1/19/09I FINALLY borrowed this book (published in 2001) from the library around January 2015! It's slow-going for me because I don't especially like this genre, a contemporary woman's life with all the domestic goings-on with relatives and friends. Lots of small-talk.Seems to me that the book begins with too many characters introduced early-on during the first few pages. After a while you wonder who is who.I also borrowed the film adaptation of this same novel on DVD from the library. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387851/?... Turned out to be a faulty DVD. But at least I saw who the characters were and a bit of the plot before the DVD broke down.I also borrowed the audio version. Just like the book, it's slow going for me.I'm not drawn in yet. But I'm only on page 59 of the large print version. I'll give it a few more days... 1/31/15 - I posted the following at my GR group:===================================Nina had asked me if I ever go back to a book I had given up on. Well, for a change, yesterday I DID go back to the print copy of Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler.As I have said before, I've been approaching the story 3 ways: via print, audio, and film. I had given up on the book because it was filled with small-talk and domestic details. The film from the library turned out to be broken. So I've been listening to the audio version.Yesterday, I had missed a part of audio-version; so I went back to the book to find that part. Lo and behold, it was a very interesting part of the book! So I kept on reading the book. LOL Too bad the book took so long to get interesting! It was the part about the main character and her "old boyfriend".I also started to realize how much of the writing is missed when listening as opposed to when reading. If one is prone to have thoughts wander, then we miss parts of the audio.====================================PS-I came across a GR member's review of this book. In it, she states:-------------------------- "I hung in there for the book to get better, and finally realised the author must be paid by the word, as she seemed to make sure she got a good deal by stringing out this book with all the unnecessary descriptions and superfluous blah-blah she could make up."See that review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...--------------------------I felt that way many times while reading and/or listening to this book!

  • Pamela
    2018-12-05 00:26

    Okay, I admit it: I'm a huge fan of Tyler, and will read her books--when in a particular mood and place--over and over. This is the second (third?) read of this book for me.And I'm loving it! Perhaps even more than before because as my own writing progresses and becomes increasingly more skillful, I am in awe of the delicious, humorous, warm, unique, and sad tone that Tyler seems to access with such ease and grace. How does she do it? For starters, I think she just loves her characters, feels great sympathy for them, knows them, inhabits them in a way that, when done well, we readers take for granted. And when not done well, we howl with frustration!Tyler is a consummate artist. She is one of the rare writers who appeals to 'the masses', yet writes with such skill, authenticity, and depth that her work rises way above 'trade paperback'. And what is even more amazing is how she manages to pull this off, again and again...And again!!

  • Jaline
    2018-11-21 04:21

    Anne Tyler is such a wonderful writer. I was completely wrapped up in the life and lifestyles of the family, laughing with them, cringing with them, and enjoying the obliviousness they projected amid biting moments of truth. Like the light on a train full of amazing characters, Rebecca's search for herself and the circuitous route she took to discover who she truly was makes for a lively, compelling story.

  • Mandy
    2018-12-05 01:21

    Most of my bookclub stopped reading this book early on. I gave it an "ok" rating overall because I have mixed feelings about it. The subtle, wonderful way the author described things made it very enjoyable for me. The one that stands out most was her description of a little girl kiss on Rebecca's cheek as a damp little star. So precise, clear & true! Descriptions like that made it a tolerable read. The major flaw I see with the book & why most of my friends quit it so soon is the lack of character clarity. Yes, they all had distinct personalities, but I couldn't fully picture one of them, other than Will since Rebecca fixates on his appearance young & old. Even Rebecca, who the whole book is about, can barely be visualized as more than a lump of a woman. It's hard to care about the characters when you can't really see them in your mind. Also, the daughters' personalities were so obnoxious & needed more explanation. Every time they showed up, it was some petty drama that seemed so juvenile. Something within those scenarios needed to be clarified. They all just felt frivolous & frustrating to read.Also, the author gave herself a huge obstacle when she created such ridiculous nicknames. It was very difficult to get into because of the off-the-wall names. She never gave a clear explanation of where the names came from, except for Min Foo...and I felt a jab every time it appeared because it sounded racist in my mind. If it had been explained that Joe had been the one to name them & in the introduction of the characters these details were explained, it would have made so much more sense. Confusing a reader from the start makes it difficult for one to engage.Another disappointment was the ending. Why would the author in the conversation afterward be so sure that Zeb & Rebecca would get married? Why wouldn't she skip a few years down the road from the Will debacle & have it happen? Instead, it ends with Rebecca as a lump on the sofa, still wondering about her life. It was so blah.This was the 1st book I had read by this author & probably will be the last. The blurb for her next book was something about an unhappy marriage. No thanks...more disfunctional people I would have no feelings for because I can't picture them. Reading about people having a "ho-hum" attitude about their lives felt like a waste of time.

  • Mary
    2018-12-11 02:05

    Rebecca Davitch is a fifty-three-year-old grandmother who seemingly has everything that she could possibly want in life. Ostensibly, Beck, as she is known within the Davitch clan, is a boisterous extrovert - an outgoing, joyous, natural-born celebrator who really thrives in her role as the family's official life-of-the-party. As a matter of fact, some people might say that giving parties runs in Rebecca's blood, as it became her vocation even before she finished college. Although it was a position that she slipped into naturally, thirty years later Beck has begun to question whether this is the life that she truly wants for herself.Rebecca was a struggling young college student when she caught the eye of Joseph Davitch at an engagement party in his family's crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row house - where giving parties actually was the family business. What initially attracted this older gentleman - a charming, larger-than-life divorcé with three little girls of his own - to Beck, was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon Rebecca finds herself being swept into Joe's fascinating orbit and is eagerly accepted into his large and loving family. Before she knows it, she is embracing Joe's extended family as her own and happily raising a blended family; plus a child of their own.She has also become very involved in the family business; hosting seemingly endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of 'The Open Arms'. However, after presiding over a particularly disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is completely blindsided by the variety of troublesome questions that begin surfacing in her mind in its aftermath. Questions such as whether she is living her own life; or if she has actually become an imposter, capable of living someone else's life, occasionally drift through Rebecca's thoughts.In an attempt to settle the curious feelings of dissatisfaction that have arisen so suddenly in her life, Rebecca sets out to discover the person that she really is - both her girlhood self, as well as the dignified grownup that she once had been. The story of how Rebecca answers the personal question of who she has become, and what she does to reconcile both of those aspects of her personality, is what forms the basis for this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.I actually loved this book - the characters really draw you in. If I had one complaint, it would be that it was a little confusing to keep all the characters straight. I give this book an A+!

  • Christine Zibas
    2018-11-22 03:09

    Anne Tyler is one of America's best storytellers. She effortlessly creates whole worlds for us that surprisingly resemble our own, with quirky characters whose questions about their lives ring true. As one reviewer aptly noted, "One does not so much read a Tyler novel as visit it." And that is certainly true for her 2001 novel, "Back When We Were Grownups."This novel centers around the question, who are we really? This novel will particularly resound with those who've hit middle age (whatever that means nowadays). Tyler's main character in "Back When We Were Grownups," Rebecca Davitch, finds herself at 53, widowed, questioning just who it is she has become. The book opens with a disastrous family picnic, like so many Davitch celebrations, with family members complaining, and everything going terribly wrong. Even the family is wrong... Rebecca is the stepmother of three daughters (as well as one child of her own) who seem utterly disconnected from her. Rebecca is the one who holds everything together for the family, but she suddenly realizes that this is not the person she intended to be, back when she was a young college student in love with the girls' (now dead) father.Even if you aren't as old as Rebecca, there is much to love in this book. Every one of the characters in this book feel like people you know, whether she is detailing Poppy's obsession with his 100th birthday or young Peter, the newest stepson in the Davitch family, whose awkward outward demeanor is a shaky as Rebecca's insides. This is a family of misfits and sibling rivalry, of anti-social behavior and a family business that relies on parties. Their Baltimore family row house is elegant to outsiders and in constant state of repair, with electricians, plumbers, and landscapers spending as much time there as family members.As Rebecca begins to question her happiness and purpose in life, we are drawn into the family's lives and secrets. Rebecca revisits where her life forked in the road, and attempts to examine what might have happened if she had chosen the other path. Through this process, we come to see exactly who she is, even if Rebecca takes a longer time to reach our conclusions.In short, this is a great novel, a fascinating read, and equal to the best of Pulitzer Prize winning author Tyler's best work. Her revelations come through in the small details and charm she injects into each character of her stories. The Davitch family of "Back When We Were Grownups" is full of people we understand, and understand to be ourselves.