Book Review: Young Again by Gretchen Johnson


Title: Young Again

By: Gretchen Johnson

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 290

Release Date: August 16th, 2021

Publisher: Golden Antelope Press

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Summary from Goodreads:

What would it feel like to find your middle-aged self suddenly living back in a college dorm room? Four faculty members at Prairie State College in Minnesota are about to find out after their administration comes up with a bizarre strategy to improve graduation rates -- The Faculty Dorm Dweller Program.

While the idea seems promising to the administration, it doesn't take long for problems to arise--problems which readers will find appallingly funny, situations they'll find stimulate both empathy and snark. As Johnson says, "It's not so much a fish-out-of-water scenario as it is an older fish returning to a pond she'd lived in years ago."

So Juanita Jane Ruckler, a fiftyish English professor, proves that she's not old by having an affair with a nineteen-year-old student. Lyla Benson, recently divorced and thirty-eight, runs into her old college flame and finds herself searching: is there something more than ashes left in that relationship? Bert Rojas, a math professor, is using the program to escape a boring home life with a nagging wife--the woman he's married right after college, back when youth had seemed eternal. As the FDD crew gets to know one another, they provide balance, experience, and understanding to one another. Even fresh-faced and naive young Joy McPherson, assistant professor in Political Science, can sometimes teach her older colleagues--though her own choices seem inexorably wrong. And the students? They're teachers too, in their own inimitable ways.


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Ok, lets start off with the thing I really liked. I found the characters to be warm and full of excitement. Juanita Jane happens to be my favorite with her bubbly personality and upbeat flavor, but the other characters were prevalent and wonderful as well. You could really tell this story was character driven and nicely paced.

The story itself was littered with dialogue and long analogies that bogged down the story. With little world building or color behind the words, I come back to that age old statement of "showing not telling." The references to Mexicans and Native American's was a little off putting and could be construed as slightly racist. With that, and the scene where two of the characters were having a sweet reminiscence about memories long forgotten, spoiled by the mocking of a boy with Downs Syndrome, sealed the fate on this read. 

This author has great potential with wonderful complex plotlines, but the execution needs work. Please remember, this is my opinion and another reader might see things differently.     

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 

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