"The Big Chill for the Facebook generation."
--Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon
Clover, Addison, Mia, and Jane were roommates at Harvard until their graduation in 1989.
Twenty years later, their lives are in free fall. Clover, once a securities broker, is out of a job and struggling to reproduce before her fertility window shuts. Addison's marriage to a writer's-blocked novelist is as stale as her so-called career as a painter. Hollywood closed its gold-plated gates to Mia, who now stays home with her children, renovating and acquiring faster than her husband can pay the bills. Jane, the Paris bureau chief for a newspaper whose foreign bureaus are now shuttered, is caught in a vortex of loss.
Like all Harvard grads, they've kept abreast of one another via the red book, a class report published every five years, containing alumni autobiographical essays. But there's the story we tell the world, and then there's the real story, as these former classmates will learn during their twentieth reunion, a relationship-changing, score-settling, unforgettable weekend.
"A wonderfully epic 'cradle to grave' story . . . about the enduring power of friendship."
"Destined to be a classic."
As readers of photojournalist and author Kogan s second novel learn, Harvard doesn t content itself with the alumni mags and e-mails and letters other colleges make do with: before big reunions, it sends out a bound crimson book containing alumni updates on their lives, a reunion cheat sheet that gives Kogan both her title and structural framework. That exasperated sigh you hear, from those of us who didn t go to Harvard, carries through the first pages, which feature the entries of Kogan s four main characters: WASPy Addison Cornwall Hunt, an artist and trust funder living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; black, commune-raised Lehman Brothers managing director Clover Pace Love; Jewish ex-actress and stay-at-home mom Mia Mandelbaum Zane, splitting her time between L.A. and France; and Boston Globe journalist Jane Nguyen Streeter, born in Vietnam, raised in the American suburbs, and based in Paris. Their entries are obviously written to impress and to cover up; real life is what happens before and after, which, in this case, means these class of 89ers 20-plus years of friendship and the three days that constitute their 20th reunion and the bulk of Kogan s book. What starts out feeling like a marketing-driven women s book the perfect read for a mani-pedi turns out to be a smart, funny, engrossing, and action-packed meditation on women s lives, growing up, having and not having it all, class and the expectations that come with having gone to Harvard, love lost and found, infidelity and sexuality, and finally, loss and lying, especially to yourself.