I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of The Jetsetters long before it became Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club selection for March. With that said, I can certainly understand why it was chosen.
The Jetsetters is about a dysfunctional/functional, imperfectly/perfect family whose baggage goes well beyond the type one takes on a trip. Charlotte Perkin’s best friend has just died. A widow of many years who was married to an angry alcoholic, she has three children. They are not the Brady Bunch. She starts to feel as if her life is over. She needs something new in her life or she knows she will die.
She decides to enter a writing contest called Become a Jetsetter by writing a little erotic short story from when she a young single woman. And she wins! And the prize is a European cruise. She decides to ask her children to join her in hopes of somehow bringing them all together.
Lee is her daughter who is still trying to become an actress, even though she now is in her late 30’s. Regan is an unhappily married mother of two who put aside her dreams to become an artist to marry and have children. She married Lee’s old boyfriend! Cord is a businessman who Charlotte cannot understand why he won’t just settle down. He is gay. Charlotte has no idea.
So the family sets sail with all their baggage…pun intended! As they cruise and visit the cities of Rome, Athens and Barcelona the children (who are really adults) but hardly act that way, and Charlotte, begin to explore their individual problems and demons as well as disagreements and squabbles with each other. Fighting ensues and Charlotte does what she does best in these situations…smile and pretend nothing is really wrong.
But as old wounds and secrets begin to surface, Charlotte must not only face and accept her children’s flaws and love them anyway, but she must also accept her own regrets which she has carried like heavy baggage from her own childhood and learn to love herself.
The Jetsetters delves into what a broken family looks like. It is funny, yet sensitive and heartbreaking all at the same time. We can all identify with family crisis of some sort. And as we would in our own family, we root for them all, feel their pain and embarrassment, and hope they can put their baggage away and become better people and a new family.
Thank you to NetGalley, Ballentine Books, Amanda Eyre Ward for the advanced copy of this amazing book.