There are very few people in this world who don’t have a story of “the one that got away.” Whether it was a breakup, or realizing that you had something great within your grasp but not the courage to “go for it” we spend our lives wondering “what if.” Indeed, there are whole genres of books written on the “what ifs” of life. Reunion: A Story is not alternate history, though. It is simply the story of a man who is reflecting on not having the courage in high school to ask out the girl he has fallen for.
Jim Garraty is visiting the cemetery where that first love from high school is buried. He’s a divorced historian who has drifted through the world but found that Martina Elizabeth Reynaud was never far from his mind. A week before, Jim received a phone call from his high school buddy Mark telling him that Marty had died the day before in a car accident. Everything he had tried to bury from those past high school days suddenly comes flowing back, and Jim is overwhelmed by the “what ifs” and the life he never had a chance to have.
Author Alex Diaz-Granados is excellent at painting a picture with words. I can see Jim Garraty in the cemetery, in his school office trying to draw the day to a close, and in his apartment that was decorated by his ex-wife that he still hasn’t had the inclination to change. This gives Jim the quality of a person who ignores the details in his own life while meticulously researching the details in the lives of others, particularly those in a book he is ostensibly working on. Jim seems restless, however, even in his work on the novel. He cannot get to a point in writing that book that he is satisfied with.
Does all of this stem from the “what ifs” of a life he never got to live? As the reader is brought back through those days in high school when the world seemed filled with possibilities for the future, it would seem Jim is haunted by his inability to ask the girl he had fallen for out on a date. The author faithfully recounts the details of those days as Jim reflects back on them prior to his trip back to his hometown of Miami, making it seem that indeed, the decision to not pursue the girl of his dreams has haunted the rest of his life.
The novella is not terribly long at just 44 pages for the paperback version. It’s an easy read that grabbed me within the first couple of pages and brought me back to my own time in high school. The setting is all too familiar to those of us who came of age in the early 1980s, including social mores that are quite unique to that time period. It is a fine piece of writing and an easy read that will bring up that nostalgia for many people approaching their 60s or already there. This is available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, as well as paperback.