- Fritzi Newton
Maybe it’s just me or possibly it’s a baby boomer thing, but does anyone else agree there’s something about our culture that dictates we be the best at whatever we try—parenting, our profession, chosen hobbies, etc.? Mediocrity just doesn’t cut it. Imagine then, the pressure to excel if you’ve graduated from an Ivy League school. In Deborah Copaken Kogan’s latest offering, The Red Book, Harvard alumni come together for their 20th reunion, a gathering which portends to be an event to remember.
Published every five years, The Red Book is a much-anticipated volume, updating former Harvard classmates with coveted facts about fellow alumni—mates, offspring, jobs, accomplishments, etc. The book provides not only information, but also a means for comparing oneself to one’s peers. With those facts in hand, graduates arrive at the reunion either solo or with families in tow. Let the games begin.
Kogan chooses to concentrate on a small group of friends who have remained close through the years. There’s Jane, a journalist based in France, whose foreign-correspondent husband was killed five years earlier covering a story. Living off of trust funds, part-time artist Addison is consumed with taking care of her three children while her distant husband works endlessly on a phantom novel. Clover quickly made a name in the world of finance but now finds herself without a job and, at the age of forty hoping desperately to conceive her first child. And, finally, Mia, a brilliant actor in college, left the stage without looking back when she married her husband, a world-famous director.
Over the course of the reunion, the friends in The Red Book will experience a charged chemistry, resulting in shattered lives for some and revitalized dreams for others.