Wynn In Doubt
by Emily Hemmer
Wynn Jeffries has wanderlust. Unfortunately, her life stalled somewhere between graduating from college and slinging drinks at the local dive bar. Stuck in a one-room apartment with no career, no boyfriend, no…life, she dreams of something more. Something amazing. Something like Oliver Reeves, her high school crush, who’s back in town and reminding Wynn of the way she used to be.
When a forgotten news clipping falls out of a book belonging to Wynn’s grandmother, a well-kept family secret is finally revealed. Is Wynn’s gypsy spirit the result of an overactive imagination, or did she inherit it from a woman so determined to live a big life, she gave up everything to have it?
Together, Wynn and Oliver attempt to put together the missing pieces of her family’s past and unravel the mystery behind her great-grandmother’s disappearance. But after so much time succumbing to fear and regret, can Wynn ditch her safe, routine life for the chance at an extraordinary future?
“As usual, my voice is last. I could claim slow reflexes, but the truth is, putting what other people want before what I want, even unconsciously, has become habit. A therapist told me it was transference. That it’s easier for me to put other people first because there’s no risk involved. No chance of losing out on all those dreams I keep dreaming about. But his appointments coincided with my nephew’s Little League games, so I never learned how to reverse the cycle.”
“So he remembers the kiss. Does he also remember the gangly, dorky, unblossomed girl attached to those lips? No doubt I left him in a state of lustful frenzy tonight with the way I fought to pull open the door marked ‘Push.’”
“It’s so unfair to grow up and still be the same person. We spend years trying to remake ourselves. College, marriage, Roth IRAs, organic produce. Deep inside, we’re all just playing at being adults. Because we’ll never be better than the people we were at six, or worse than the ones we were at sixteen.”
“You can’t trust musicians, you know. They move from town to town, picking up a new girl at every stop. My great-aunt Goldie dated one… a jazz player. Found out he had six children in six different states. She only listened to classical after that.”
“I rub my lips against him so he can feel my smile. It’s one of those things that makes you want to cry for no good reason. A happy thing that makes you sad at the same time.”
“Tears slide down her cheeks, and she wipes them away. It feels wrong to see my mother cry. Parents are meant to be strong, the ones who make everything better. Who makes things better for them after their parents are gone?”
“Poor Stanley. Poor bald, sweaty, manic Stanley. Between Franny’s abrasiveness and Tabby’s low-cut blouse, he’s having a hell of an afternoon.”
This book repeatedly squeezed my heart and stole the breath from my lungs. I also felt a strange sting in my eyes and a burn in my throat. Ms. Hemmer did an excellent job of capturing those all too familiar feelings of inadequacy and the wheel spinning of a stagnant life going nowhere, as well as the pervasive sense of dissatisfaction from unfulfilled dreams. Not to mention the guilt of squandered time and missed chances. She essentially wrote 3 stories in one with three different timelines. Each were equally enthralling and exquisitely crafted. Her writing is highly insightful, intelligent, witty, and clever. I loved her characters, even when the grown sisters continued to spat and bicker like the spoiled children they were and continued to be. I wanted more of each of the storylines – but then a good tale always makes me greedy.
Emily Hemmer was raised in the Chicago suburbs before settling in Kansas City in 1996. A huge fan of romantic comedies, Emily was overjoyed to realize her college roommate could recite every word of the movie ‘Clueless,’ until she realized that was the only VHS tape her roommate owned. Emily dropped out of college and to this day, blames the listless years of her twenties on the words, “As if!” She completed her degree after an extended eleven-year semester break during which time she got married, had kids, and became a published author. Her greatest accomplishment to date is holding the high score in Ms. PacMan at the Pizza Hut in Schaumburg, Il.