The Cast: A Novel by Amy Blumenfeld

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Though I was snuggling on the sofa with my daughter, every other part of  my being was back in that room over two decades earlier, experiencing Becca Night Live for the very first time.

Twenty-five years ago Becca’s best friends Holly, Seth, Lex and Jordana gave her the gift of laughter with a video tape in the same style as Saturday Night Live to help her heal from a very serious illness, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While her friend’s lives go on as that of most ninth graders, homework, goofing around and first dates Becca feels locked out of it all, stuck in bed, trapped by tubes, IVS. The tender gift gives her something for herself, something she doesn’t have to share with her hovering, overbearing but caring parents. Becca’s illness is a noxious brew of mixed emotions, a longing to be a part of the group fully again, instead of being left out of even the smallest details, it’s like time standing still for her, while her friends are forging ahead, she is left behind in a sterile room with an uncertain future. It is 25 years later, she has a daughter of her own Emma (whom she loves beyond anything in the world), and a husband Nolan whom she met in college and fell hard for. But how much honesty can she take from him and why do his real feelings make her question if his love is genuine? This is an interesting part of the story, because people aren’t supposed to be honest about things that make them seem vain, a man’s perspective about such an intimate body/health issue of his wife’s hardly seems fair. But there are two sides, even if it comes off as selfish or cruel, it’s his truth even though it won’t sit well with most women.

As the friends come together, something is failing in each of their lives. Becca’s illness creates a division between her and Nolan, and all the friends are aware things aren’t good between them. All the treatments she received as a teen left its mark on her body. Her friends kept a lot from her, how deeply painful it was to stand by and watch her suffer when they were so young. There are other issues too that come to a head during the ‘reunion’. Not everyone who seems to be living the perfect life is truly happy. Every member of The Cast has a voice in the novel. Something came between Holly and Jordana when they were young, it smacked of betrayal though that may not have been intentional and many years later it still causes an ache. Old jealousies arise, feeling as if time never passed. Jordana is still attuned to her best friend and the atmosphere, she knows something is wrong again.  All the old fears bubble inside of her, and it’s time to confess just how frightened she was all those years ago.  But first, she has to know what is going on. Is she being pushed out again, by Holly, who took something else from her before? Lex has so much and should be fulfilled, so why is she crowing so loudly in defense of Becca’s own marital struggles, so sure Nolan (as the man) is to blame? Three children, a successful husband and perfect home may not be enough for her anymore. Seth was headed for success at Princeton so long ago, the wind in his sail changed his direction and his romantic life is more about getting women out of his bed as fast as in. Strange now to find himself getting closer to the very married Lex, and giving her business advice? Just how much has she changed? Bonds will be tested, and bridges will be built, some on grief. The friends have been dealing with very adult issues since the year their beloved friend Becca was diagnosed decades ago, and once again they will all need each other’s love and support as life takes a bite out of them.

This is perfect for a book club, it could spark serious conversation about women’s issues that also become men’s issues.

Publication Date: August 14, 2018

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