I’ve read two memoirs by Jancee Dunn so far this year, and now I’ve finished her foray into fiction, Don’t You Forget About Me, which was so similar to her memoirs that I had to keep reminding myself that she was not, in fact, the main character. I had the same problem with Nora Ephron, after reading two memoirs then Heartburn, in which the main character bore a striking similarity to Ephron. Still, they tell you to write what you know, and that must have worked for Dunn, because this was a fun little novel to read.
In Don’t You Forget About Me, 38 year old television producer Lillian Curtis is blindsided when her husband asks for a divorce. She’s shocked because she loves their laid back, eating Chinese on the couch while watching Netflix lifestyle. At this point, I leaned over to my husband, who was playing on his iPad as I read this book and we both listened to a Friends rerun, and verified that he is, indeed, happy with our lifestyle. Lillian takes a hiatus from work and returns home to New Jersey to live with her parents while she sorts things out.
This is basically a relationship post-mortem, as Lillian examines her marriage and previous relationships and how it all went wrong. She fixates on her high school boyfriend, Christian, and becomes convinced that if she sees him again then they would fall instantly in love. Her twenty year high school reunion is coming up, so she convinces herself to go and see him again.
The best parts of the book were when Lillian rediscovered her childhood, and realized that what she had always held as idyllic was actually painful. As Lillian reminisces about high school, her sister reminds her that actually, Lillian spent a lot of time crying in her room in high school, wondering why Christian never called and things like that. It was an interesting glimpse into the lies we all tell ourselves. The 80s references were fun, too, especially the music (which is Dunn’s forte).