At the drop of a party hat, 75-year-old Ellie Jerome gets a birthday wish come true—the opportunity to re-experience youth . . . as a 29-year-old living in the present day. Her flippant mental itch to be young again turns into reality when she wakes up the morning after her birthday party without the familiar wrinkles, aches and dietary concerns of her former self. She is astonished to realize she now inhabits the thin, beautiful body of her younger self. And she is also ecstatic for the chance to spend some carefree “peer” time with her 25-year-old granddaughter, Lucy.
Ellie quickly adapts to her enjoyable routine of shopping for form-flattering clothes, eating without regard to cholesterol and flirting with handsome “younger men.” But by day’s end, the initial thrill has worn off, and Ellie feels the strain of occupying a young body with the mind and memories of a grandmother. She’s confronted with her past and forced to see her present through new eyes, giving focus to a lifetime of relationships and regrets. Though tempted to forgo her own history for a chance at a new future, she is unable to neglect what made her into the 75-year-old woman she was—and is on the inside.
A seasoned journalist, Adena Halpern demonstrates a realistic and humorous understanding of her subject matter. Her research shows in the way she makes generational observations while maintaining a consciously comedic and light-hearted tone. While the plot line is fantastical, the poignant commentaries on age, agelessness and family are far from it.
If 50 is the new 40, and 40 is the new 30, the story of 29 offers a relatable and relevant look at the age-old search for the fountain of youth.