It Started in June
By Susan Kietzman
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Reviewed by Janga
At forty-two, Grace Trumbull is single, successful, and satisfied with her life. She has recently been promoted to vice-president at Broadbent and Shapiro, a prestigious media relations firm, after only eight months on the job. She is the only child of a mother who gave birth to her at seventeen and spent the first eighteen years of Grace’s life reinforcing the idea that Grace was a mistake that ruined her mother’s life. Her rigid, judgmental grandparents whose joyless religion demanded they see Grace as evidence of their daughter’s shameless immorality compounded the problem. When Grace turned eighteen, they dismissed her from their lives. A scholarship to Georgetown proved to be Grace’s salvation. She married at twenty-seven, but the marriage broke up seven years later over Grace’s refusal to have a child. Eight years after her divorce, Grace is content with her beach cottage, the classic Cadillac convertible her ex insisted she take when they divorced, a single close friendship, and a job at which she excels.
Bradley Hanover, a thirty-year-old rising star in the firm, is a golden boy—handsome, charismatic, and a master at charming all he meets. The only son of doting parents, a psychiatrist mother and a pediatrician father, he grew up privileged in Ann Arbor, Michigan, graduated from Yale, and stumbled into media relations, a career that proved a perfect fit for his abilities. He is the new kid at Broadbent and Shapiro, but he has won the acclaim of his bosses and his colleagues. He is elated when he is assigned to work with Grace on the Maritime Museum account because it is a plum assignment and because he is fascinated by the cool beauty of the new vice-president. The fact that she is twelve years older only makes her more interesting.
One evening after working late, Grace joins Bradley for a drink that turns into another drink and ends with the two of them having hot sex in her Cadillac. They begin seeing each other, being careful to avoid places where they might be seen by others who work at Broadbent and Shapiro. They are still at the stage of getting to know one another when Grace finds out that a broken condom has resulted in her being pregnant. Against all advice, Grace decides to have the baby. Bradley is eager to do the right thing, but he has doubts about his readiness to become a father. And there is an assertive young woman, a co-worker, who has no doubts that Grace is too old for Bradley and that Bradley is just the man for her.
Sometimes a book is well-written, but a reviewer just fails to connect with it. Such is the case with me and this book. I could not get beyond the maturity gap between Grace and Bradley. I use “maturity gap” with deliberation because it is not the age difference that bothers me. Pamela Morsi pairs forty-six-year-old Red Cullen with Cam Early, fourteen years her junior, in Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar, and that is one of my all-time favorite books. But Bradley is a very young thirty. In fact, he reminded me a lot of some of the young men I taught who were in their early twenties.
He says he is tired of shallow relationships, but it is clear that his freedom is a priority. He also has a degree of self-absorption that seems more typical of a “new adult.” It’s nice that he is close to his parents, but they seem excessively involved in his life. Then, there is the infidelity issue, a repeated offense that is never really addressed, and the whole bit was tainted too much by the-woman-tempted-me claim for my taste. Being an adult is about accepting the responsibility for your choices. Then, when the change in Bradley’s character comes, it happens very quickly—over a thirty-day period in his life and within in a few paragraphs in the reader’s experience of the book. The reader sees little evidence that his maturation is substantial enough for him to be the man he needs to be for Grace and their infant daughter Hope. I don’t really trust in their future together. For these reasons, although I found Grace an interesting, credible character, the book just didn’t work for me.