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Review: The Latecomers Fan Club by Diane V. Mulligan

What is it about guys with guitars in their hands that makes them so irresistible, even when they are obviously self-centered jerks? If Abby and Maggie could answer that question, maybe they could finally get over Nathaniel. There’s just something about him when he picks up his guitar and gets behind the microphone, something that makes sensible women act like teenyboppers.

Quite the reality check out of most novels I’ve read, The Latecomers Fan Club is the looking glass of life for most of us in our mid twenties to early thirties who have a few regrets under our belts. This novel makes one reexamine one’s life and realize that the things you once wanted may have been fantasies and teaches you to grab a hold of what’s in front of you and make the most of it. Though frustrating and over dramatic at times, The Latecomers Fan Club also makes one see that being stuck in a rut is not the end of the world. It will get better, you just have to be willing to put forth the effort, not just sit around and wait. And although I usually wrap things up in a pretty bow, I’d have to say if you take nothing else from The Latecomers Fan Club, make sure you have good friends by your side to get you through the hard times.

Our story setup is of three main characters: Abby, Nathaniel and Maggie. And each time the story takes a turn, one of these three characters takes the helm of the wheel. Up to bat is Abby and she is working on New Year’s Eve when she discovers she is pregnant. Knowing she has only been with Nathaniel (her reluctant with commitment boyfriend) for the past three years, she concludes he is the father. With this news, Abby hopes she can get him to commit (marry) or at least force him to stop drinking and want to do better in their relationship and be a father to their baby.

Nathaniel, unaware of this news, makes plans to spend New Year’s Eve with an old friend, Nick, from Worcester; anything to get away from Abby, who he can’t stand. While there, he runs into another old friend, Maggie, the one that got away. He knew Maggie had a crush on him in high school but he never wanted to ruin the friendship. But in reality, he was just being a stupid teenager, chasing some fantasy girl. Well Nathaniel wastes no time, reconnecting with Maggie and by the stroke of midnight, his lips are locked onto hers.

Maggie is recently divorced from Andrew, the perfect man who always took care of her; yet, Andrew wanted kids and Maggie did not. Thus here she is: back home in Worcester, the one place she said she wouldn’t return, living in her mother’s house. With only an art degree to show for herself, Maggie must figure out how to start all over without her husband’s money or any money of her own and no one to really rescue her from her despair. Then she meets Nathaniel and suddenly things are looking brighter.

You know who isn’t looking or feeling so bright right about now: Abby. She is trying to just get in touch with Nathaniel just to tell him she’s pregnant. She wants to do it in person but he isn’t home and he hasn’t returned any of her calls. And to top it off, she will have to look for a new job because working at a bar won’t do for a mother-to-be. 

While Abby is trying to switch careers, Nathaniel is trying to process the change in his life. Abby has just dropped a bomb on him that she is pregnant and he is the father. But he can’t focus on that because he is trying to begin again with Maggie while sleeping with one of his students, as well as working on getting his band, The Latecomers, back together. Plus his drinking problem has gotten worse, and it looks life his life isn’t far behind. 

Maggie, in her mind, has hit rock bottom. Not only is she living at home but she is working at Macy’s in the Junior Miss department. She can barely afford her cell phone bill, much less her own place and her so called ”relationship” with Nathaniel isn’t looking so great. In fact, it’s actually worse than the friendship they had in high school. Yet Maggie doesn’t know if she is ready to let her dream of being with Nathaniel turn into a reality without him. And Maggie isn’t the only one. Can Abby sum up the courage to be a single mother, no Nathaniel at all? Can Nathaniel get his act together, with the band and with his life? Will any of these “latecomers” finally arrive at reality?

The Latecomers Fan Club is not a happy read but it does have a happy ending or rather a lesson to the tale. The lesson, life sucks, but you don’t have to let it. Ruts happen but you don’t have to stay in them. Figure out how to move forward and then take that first step. Also, The Latecomers Fan Club is about letting go of ill conceived notions and coming to reality. Learning to let go of what we had hoped or wanted out of life and making the most of what we do have or being more realistic about our dreams and aspirations. And to tie it all up, if you learn nothing else, keep a friend or two handy to help you sail on through the rough spots in life. It’ll make things so much easier. 

Reviewed by Camia Rhodes

Book Information
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Pages: 198

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