by Sue Ann Rawlins
Fifty-one and tons of fun must have been on my mind the day I first picked up my college-aged daughter’s copy of Twilight. I must have known that one book would lead me to try things I’d never done before, go places I’d never gone before, and meet people I never would have met any other way. My fifties were definitely not going to be frumpy.
In NOVEL FRIENDS, I overcome the malaise of menopause by becoming young again. With my husband’s airline flight benefit, I jump out of my comfort zone and travel from Minneapolis to fourteen cities in the U.S. and Europe to meet twenty-two women from an online community, the Twilight Lexicon. These new friends are much younger than this middle-aged woman wearing a bohemian skirt, but they are just the trick to bring me out of my menopausal slump. Our little group gradually makes the transition to real life as I start meeting people one by one, and that in turn, opens the floodgates for those women to meet each other too, culminating in our own convention in Chicago. Along the way, I sing karaoke with the same movie star in two different cities and invite my Target cashier to go to a midnight movie showing with me.
More than a travel memoir, NOVEL FRIENDS is a second coming-of-age story where at fifty-one, I go beyond the social norms for a woman my age and develop unexpected friendships in doing so, from online to real life. With this group of younger friends, I become Susie and go back in time to the days of my youth—the days of slumber parties and teen idol crushes—and the result is invigorating. NOVEL FRIENDS is an uplifting, fun read that leaves the reader thinking about taking some social risks themselves, no matter how small.