Sunday, June 19, 2016

I'm Glad About You by Theresa Rebeck

As you get older, you see your choices narrow, and the saying "timing is everything" seems truer and truer.

Theresa Rebeck's novel I'm Glad About You is a love story about choices made when young and living with the consequences of these choices through the years.  Allison and Kyle are high school sweethearts who cannot seem to get their goals to sync up.  She wants to sleep with him; he, a devout Catholic, refuses.  He wants a life of service, medical mission work in a third world country; she wants to pursue acting, perfecting her craft and herself;   The relationship lasts about six years, through college and bit more.  Then Allison and Kyle break up for good. 

Or do they?

Rebeck sets up situation after situation where Kyle and Allison could possibly, just maybe, break away from their self-interests and reunite.  After all, Kyle has changed his medical focus from saving the under-served to placating the healthy.  Allison has found that success in the entertainment industry isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Neither has had fulfilling relationships, particularly Kyle, whose marriage to the selfish Evangeline serves as a constant reminder of what might have been.

Spoiler alert: despite what the reader may want, Allison and Kyle never do reunite  Instead, the author shows how each makes the best of career and relationship blunders, of which there are many.  What each finds through good choice after bad choice after good choice is a different kind of happiness~to quote another favorite book, a "separate peace."

The title of the book comes from the Navajo version of "I love you."  There are no words for love in this language, according to Rebeck, so "I'm glad about you" serves as that sentiment.  And it sums up what remains for Kyle and Allison.  Their friendship, their history is something to be terribly glad about.  It remains honest and solid, because friendships from youth, whether romantic or platonic, gather a beautiful patina with age.  These relationships are the slow ripening fruit of life, and Theresa Rebeck shows how Allison and Kyle's is becoming particularly delicious. 

I hope she writes a sequel; it would be lovely to see these two rendezvous in their 40s or 50s.  Might roads not taken ultimately merge?