Trigger warning: Rape.
I tend to not do spoiler reviews. However, I realized that I wouldn't be able to show what I didn't give this book over two stars without spoiling the book.
Well good news is that this only cost me $.99. Bad news is that I didn't really think I got my money's worth. I have liked/loved most of Meaney's works, but this one just fell flat to me throughout the book. Ostensibly about two sisters (Caroline and Eleanor) going to their twenty year reunion in Ireland, the book jumps back and forth showing Caroline and Eleanor and their lives twenty years ago, and to the present day. I felt for both women's stories, but ended up liking Caroline's more, I just hated how her story-line got resolved. I also think that Eleanor's story-line just magically poof got better with no real repercussions for what happened to her family after she just opted out of things.
"The Reunion" starts with sisters Caroline and Eleanor receiving an invitation to their 20 year reunion. Neither of them wants to go for different reasons. Receiving the invitation though has both of them remembering things that they rather not dwell about now in their late 30s.
Meaney goes back and forth to show both women's POV throughout the book.
Caroline's story-line was shocking. She is raped by a family friend and falls pregnant. When she goes to her mother, her mother informs her that she will be sent to England for an abortion and even slaps her when Caroline realizes that her mother maybe harbored a secret fantasy about this family friend. I felt for Caroline and everything she went through. Her finding a real friend in her cousin Florence was welcome. Caroline is shown missing her son after giving him up for adoption. However, Meaney then throws a love interest in Caroline's story that didn't feel realistic at all. I was fine with her being a successful businesswoman. Having her in a romance that felt off to me (she meets this man when he is a young teen and they have a relationship about ten years later) and honestly it skeeved me out.
Eleanor seemed to have a slightly charmed life. Dating the most handsome boy at her school who is also the son of a rich man, Eleanor sees her life with him going smoothly with them eventually marrying. He has other ideas and breaks up with her. For most of the story-line with Eleanor you know that she doesn't let this relationship go easily, and that she had a child that died. It takes a while for you to figure out who Eleanor marries. And I have to say, that romance had zero chemistry when Meaney finally shows it to us. I did feel sympathy for Eleanor for her loss, but we find out she refused to be a mother or wife to her family for 14 years after the accidental death of her child. I didn't want her to be left alone and mourning forever. But I thought how Meaney resolved things with no real repercussion to Eleanor was a freaking cop out. It seemed that for a bit there Meaney was going to reveal that Eleanor's husband sought out a relationship elsewhere, but that went nowhere fast.
I think the secondary characters were not developed that well. Eleanor's husband barely feels present, along with Caroline and Eleanor's parents. I thought the only character that was sketched reasonably well was cousin Florence.
The writing was good. I was just more invested in Caroline's story. Eleanor's chapters felt bogged down to me while I was reading. Nothing much seems to happen to her until she goes off to work in a restaurant. The flow was up and down going back and forth. When Meaney goes back in time (so to speak) to show the women's lives twenty years back and then suddenly we are just in the present day it felt weird to me. Meaney does show the years/month so you know what timeline you are in. Thank goodness for that since a few times I was a bit lost.
The ending didn't satisfy me at all. Eleanor's family is bailed out by a rich relation and she and her husband magically make things work. I wish we had them having more conversations with each other. Instead, we just hear how they are now sharing a bedroom again. I also wish that Caroline's mother had been made to face up to what she had done, but she wasn't.