Cover Image: The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going on 91

The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going on 91

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Member Reviews

Unfortunately, I have not been able to read and review this book.

After losing and replacing my broken Kindle and getting a new phone I was unable to download the title again for review as it was no longer available on Netgalley. 

I’m really sorry about this and hope that it won’t affect you allowing me to read and review your titles in the future.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. 
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I love reading books by this author and although I did enjoy this book it wasn't my favourite. This one is set in a retirement home, The characters are a fusion of generations and all bought something different to the table.

This book is quirky and has some moments of comedy genius, but I did struggle to gel with it like I have other books by this author and was disappointed as I expected something more along the lines of Calling Major Tom.
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If you feel when you read the beginning of this book that it may not be your cup of tea, please persevere. I loved watching the relationships grow and the lessons that all generations can learn from each other. 

As the story unfolds we find out so much about the characters and I'm sure we can all identify with at least one or more of them. This is done with humour and empathy even in some of the saddest moments. No matter what age we are, it is never too early or late to benefit from the experience of others and it may even change your life!
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Jennifer is a student, studying film noir. With student accommodation not yet built she is living off campus temporarily in a nursing home. The home is, somewhat, unique. It is home to five elderly residents and owned by the Granges. Joining Jennifer are fellow students Liverpudlian John – Paul George ‘Ringo’ and Bo Liu and Lling Liu. 

There are a few secrets in the book, and I never knew which characters I could trust. Jennifer, in her opinion, is boring and so takes on a whole different persona in her new surroundings. She is so self-absorbed. She also lies about something huge, and when the lie is revealed she doesn’t seem to realise how wrong that it is. When will it click Jennifer?!

The residents in the nursing home, on one hand, did feel like clichés, and Ringo did not convince me, but on the other are very amusing. I laughed out loud at a lot of their exchanges; with the discussions between the two groups about ‘when they were young’, Brexit and how the young are more self-absorbed than their generation. Typical stuff, really.

There is a mystery in the book, and I felt the author didn’t know whether to go all in with that part of the story, or not, and so I was underwhelmed by the ending as it seemed so at odds with other parts of the book, where all the residents are bonding, going out and getting drunk, and with everyone working together to stop the home from closing. There is a poignancy to the book, about aging, and loneliness, and being happy with who you are, and who your family are.

I took from the book that our experiences from childhood, what beliefs we are brought up with, and the gripes and grudges we hold onto all our lives can impact us in different ways, leaving us unfulfilled. 
We must choose to change or remain entrenched in our prejudices.
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I thought I was going to enjoy The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going On 91 but I had to give up on it. I struggled to get into it and thought it was too far fetched for me.
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This book gave me all the warm fuzzies; I ended up liking it so much more than I thought I would and I LOVE when that happens. It made me laugh out loud and I came away feeling just...better. <3
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This combined my love of old movies with my love of books that have a different take on what's normal. I love the idea of uni students lodging in a care home with old-aged pensioners and it really highlighted the tensions that we have going on between generations at the moment. Add in some mysterious disappearance of personal items and Jennifer's love of old movies and a strong desire to reinvent herself and become Lauren Bacall and it's a wonderful book full of mystery, hijinks and people who aren't quite what they seem.

But of course Lauren Bacall, traditional femme-fatale and oh so glamorous movie star, doesn't quite fit Jennifer's actual personality and the constant strain of trying to be someone she's not inevitably gets to Jennifer and it turns into a lovely story about identity, about finding herself and working out how to bridge the gap between who she is and who she wants to be.

The story has so much more than this, but if I go into everything I loved about it, it would become one of those reviews that says more about what happens in the story than what makes it good. Just know that it has a thrilling mystery, amazing characters that not only are quirky and fun but also feel very real and sinister goings on that will make you feel like you're in an old film-noir.

I got this book because it sounded fun, but I didn't realise quite how good it would be. I absolutely loved it and I hope you do too!
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Jennifer Ebert has transferred to Morecambe University to escape an embarrassing situation she had suffered at Loughborough and to also change from studying Economics to Film Studies. As her student accommodation is not quite ready she has agreed to stay at the Sunset Retirement home at a reduced rent as part of an initiative to mix the elderly with the younger generation.  This idea is not really that far-fetched as there have been similar things happening in real life but more with 5 – 9 year olds that university students.
In the beginning I did get the feeling that this was a book with two separate stories, that of Jennifer and the university students and then the residents of the retirement home as the book was told from the two different viewpoints with very little bringing them together.  This changed about halfway through the book when the group bonded over some home-made brew and a fancy dress party. From this point on I really began to enjoy the book as you got to see more of the personalities of the residents and in some cases find out why they had the attitudes they did.
There were certainly a couple of moments where I was chuckling whilst reading, one being when Jennifer remembered the events that caused her to change both her university and course, and when you read the events that led up to it you just know it will not end well. The other one was when the group has gone for their yearly trip to the Isle of Man. Whilst scattering the ashes of one of the residents, they forgot to check which way the wind was blowing…I think you know where this is heading…. Now the reason I found it funny was I know how they felt as when we went to scatter the ashes of my father in law, my mother in law didn’t check the wind direction.
I think if I was honest the only thing that didn’t make sense to me was the two Chinese students. Although it was good to know that there was more than just Jennifer and John Paul staying there, they didn’t really add anything to the story, and they were soon relocated to some of the finished student accommodation within the university. 
If from the title of the book you are expecting something along the lines of Adrian Mole, then this might not be the book for you. That being said this is a good read that shows that no matter what age you are, you can find common interests if you look for them and that sometimes you have to learn to accept yourself for who you are as much as others around you do.
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What a fantastic and thought provoking read this was! I loved it from the very first page and was sad when the time came to say goodbye to this wonderful cast of characters. Beautifully written and emotional story that will stay with me for some time to come. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to read this moving but ultimately heartwarming story.

A heartfelt 5 stars.
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A lovely story with well described characters of different generations . Well worth a read. I recommend this book
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I’m on a role for reading fantastic books at the moment and The Growing Pains Of Jennifer Ebert 19 Going On 91 was no exception.  I thought this was a charming, heart warming and hilarious read.  I really loved it and think I’m going to find it hard to put how much into words

Firstly the characters are just fantastic, a real eclectic mix of some quirky characters which I really enjoyed getting to know.  We slowly get to know them and their back stories throughout the book and particularly through ‘Ringo’s Stars’ a wonderful feature thought up by Ringo.  This accidentally probes into their childhood and helps bring past hurts to the surface.

My favourite character was Ringo who was such a nice, genuine guy that was impossible not to like . I loved how be was just himself and how he seemed interested in being friends with everyone. He’s also the main reason why the two originally separate groups finally come together which was great to read about.  I also liked Jenny who I felt quite sympathetic towards as wevweall tried to reinvent ourselves and be someone we’re not to fit in.  Some of her efforts to do so are quite cringy and I felt like simultaneously screaming at her to stop and wanting to give her a hug to tell her it’s all ok.

The book was quite thought provoking as it shows the prejudices that exist between the two generations.  It was interesting to see the characters work through this and become friends.  It was also quite a gripping book as I felt that the characters became almost like friends so I wanted to keep reading to find d out more about them and what they’d get up to next.  There is an added mystery to the story in the firm if some thefts that having taken place in the home which I found quite intriguing.

Some of the descriptions of what the characters do and say were utterly hilarious.  I was actually crying with laughter when it came to them going to the Halloween party together.  It is definitely a book that I’ll remember and be recommending to everyone.

This is the second book by this author and I have already bought his debut book to read too. If you like heartwarming, hilarious books with some unforgettable characters then you’ll love this book.

Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton and Orion books for my copy of this book via Netgalley.
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4☆ A Touching and Endearing read.

The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert is a wonderfully charming and uplifting read, about different generations, living together, learning together, and helping each other.

The Sunset Retirement home decide that in order to make some extra funds they decide to open their doors to the younger generation. Well when I mean younger, I mean Uni students. They move in whilst their uni apartment is getting fixed up.

When I read the blurb for this book, I was really excited. 
I don't think I have read a book that features two generations living in a care home. I thought the idea would certainly be entertaining.
My nan and grandad both lived with us all my life and I wouldn't of changed it. 
Not only did it enrich my life i learnt so much more having them there.
So I was intrigued to see just how the interactions between the characters would pan out.

The characters are certainly unique, endearing, a little quirky, they were well thought-out, and believable.
The interactions between the two generations were witty, inspiring, entertaining, and at times comical.

The writing style was engaging and entertaining, i really liked that every chapter is named after a film. Which I thought was a nice touch.

There was certainly plenty of drama, escapades, some laugh out loud moments, some touching moments, a dash of romance and mystery weaved in making this book a Thought Provoking and Compelling read.

The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, is a Touching and Endearing read, it's heart warming and inspiring, a unique book with an engrossing storyline and a witty narrative filled with colourful characters. 
An absolute joy to read. I definitely recommend reading this wonderful Book.

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours and Trapeze Books for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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What happens if you put university students in with a small group of older people to live? The Sunset retirement home has taken on a european idea (with funding) to try just that. They have 5 “more mature” guests and have now taken on four students- Ling, Bo (both chinese- business studies), Ringo (real name John-paul George) and Jennifer (film studies). All are waiting for rooms in university accommodation that isn’t quite finished and this provides a solution meanwhile. There are wonderful interactive moments when the two generations get together as well as the inevitable rows and generations differences and tolerances.Each chapter is named after a film in the noir era which is Jenny’s speciality. I loved this- it gave me cause to think. There are some wise words from both young and old- sometimes we let the world spin around us without thinking to take a breath. Edna mentions one of my favourite films- the original (David Lean)version of Great Expectations explaining that Pip “even someone with nothing could have greatness thrust upon them”.  She also says “ We let things happen to us, rather than allowing ourselves to influence and change the world…. Whether we are going to be the sort of person who life happens to, or the sort of person who happens to life” . A story of hope and past and future, of young and old and somewhere in between. Of treasuring what is now and what perhaps can’t be but also allowing yourself to be you. Not always as easy as it first appears. A brilliant inspiring read. 5** 

For more reviews please see my blog
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A Thought-Provoking Look at Life, Love and Loneliness
David Barnett has managed something quite spectacular with his latest novel, knitting together themes of loneliness, love, regret and mystery into a novel that touches on current affairs and fears held within us all. On turning the last page of the book, I was not sure if I was left feeling hopeful, mournful or simply thoughtful. From the author of Calling Major Tom, The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert is a thought-provoking novel that truly taps into the mind of every single reader, no matter their age.

This is one of these occurrences when reading the blurb of a book simply does not do the story justice. Having read Calling Major Tom, I was more than expecting a flair of humour, a touch of sarcastic dialogue and carefully thought out references to popular culture, after all, it is what David Barnett excels at. I was not, however, expecting to find myself so entrenched in a story that it would lead me to question my own preconceived notions towards a generation I always assumed I was at least sensitive to.

What secrets do each of us hold? When the wrinkles set in and the worry lines of adulthood knit together with the crevasses caused by time, what stories do they hide? What secrets do they mask?

When you walk through the doors of a retirement home, what do you see? A once young soldier? a glamorous young starlet? Maybe even a grieving father? Can you look past the wrinkles into the eyes of the aged and see their lives or does fear blur your vision?

"She wonders if he sees shadows of his own mortality in them, if he worries which one he's going to end up like." Isn't this how many of us view retirement homes. Places many of us visit out of obligation rather than love. Tentatively walking the corridors passed doors that keep hidden the fears we all hold, the fears of growing old?

The release date of this latest novel may have played a part in my initial reactions towards the story. You see, I have written before about loneliness in the elderly. The John Lewis Christmas Adverts have long since tackled emotional subjects, but without a doubt, my favourite one was The Man in the Moon (back in 2015) Their thoughtful tackling of shining a spotlight on the aching loneliness of the elderly surrounded by a growing selfish generation was genius. In many ways, David Barnett's book does exactly this. Dissecting the true feelings of those in our ageing population.

Jennifer Ebert, as a character, is deeply broken in many ways but represents so much of what we see in the younger generation today. A tendency towards selfishness, a lack of understanding of the world around her and a complete lack of self-awareness wrapped in self-obsession. Her determination to 'find herself' or show her 'true self' when she moves from her first university to her second shows her immaturity. So busy trying to make her mark by following the crowd, or standing out in the crowd. Dumbing herself down to fit in but determined to be different. It's not difficult to see how David weaves in his opinions on today's cavernous generation gap, and if we took a moment to step back and think about it, it's so blindly obvious to see (...when we are not too busy scrolling through our phones looking for the next 'obsession').

But it's not all bad. Jennifer, as much as she professes to be desperate to be 'Bacall', the femme fatale in her very own noir movie of her life, deep down she knows that is not where her true-self lies. With thanks to a superbly set retirement home, filled to the rafters with odd old people each with their own quirks, it doesn't take long for the outer selfish shell to start to crack, helped a little by the determined pickaxe that is 'Ringo', the leading man sitting just a little out of shot.

The characters in this book make the story. The plot itself and the mystery element plays secondary for me. I was less bothered about the 'who-dunnit' and more fascinated and captured by the emotional dissection of the wonderful characters that make up this odd home on the hill.

But it's not just views on the elderly that Barnett tackles. Current affairs such as racism and Brexit play a key role. Views of the older generation battle against those of the younger who feel the country is ignoring their cries of frustration towards current politics. Not just here, but abroad also.

One of my favourite quotes is from Ling, a Chinese student who battles the views of the elderly who can't wait to be 'free of the clutches of Europe' -
"We are in your country because there is money to be made from your own incredible stupidity." But although David gives a voice to the many young people who feel unheard, he is clever with his subtle but poignant doses of 'reality check' coming from a generation who fought so hard for the freedom of our country.
Mr Robinson, one of the characters in the home is quick to pipe up "Bit of Blitz Spirit, that's what your generation needs. Suck it up and crack on. That's the ticket."

Barnett's attention to detail is superb. His references to the classic noir movies in each and every chapter heading made me smile with recognition. His subtle references to The Beatles had me singing Eleanor Rigby around the house for days. It is a book that followed me around during my daily chores in many different guises.

Favourites parts of the book for me include:
"A minibus full of pensioners and students dressed in Halloween fancy dress wasn't worth the paperwork" - If ever there was a scene I want to see in a movie, this is it!

"We've seen people arrive as strangers and leave as friends" - Barry - In many ways, this is how I felt when I finished the book. I walked through the doors of the home with Jennifer, encased in my own thoughts, simply setting out to read and review a book, and ended feeling as if I had made friends for life, listened to stories that have enriched my life, and changed opinions that I hope will pave a more positive outlook for my 'later' years in life.

I feel I can only end this review with one very poignant quote:
"Jennifer Ebert has only existed properly since she came to Sunset Promenade..." - In many ways, I feel the same.
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I really quite enjoyed this, it wasn't what I expected but it had some really great twists. There were some fantastic characters,and it was interesting to learn their motivations. I'm not a fan of the title but overall, a good story.
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A gentle read to warm the cockles of the soul. Very much character driven with some lovely portraiture - demonstrating that, whatever our age, we are all basically the same at heart. Find a cosy reading nook and settle in for a warm glow of a read.
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Having just finished this story I am left feeling very ambivalent about it. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of Jennifer finding herself after all her attempts to reinvent her life, as she begins her university career, becoming an interesting femme fatale rather than retain the boring, although tragic, personae of her younger home-bound self.
I loved the opening of each chapter referenced by an old film-noir title and promised myself that I would look each one up. The characters filling the old people’s rest home Sunset Promenade, were endearing, if somewhat stereotypical, with life stories that give them depth and interest. 
Jennifer is on a journey to discover who she truly is and to understand and accept the frailties of her friends and family, along with her own blinkered vision of the past. But the change of direction to who-dunnit towards the end for me caused the magic to fracture and the mystery elements felt contrived.
It was a mostly enjoyable read, witty, interesting and sometimes wise - but ultimately, disappointingly, for me did not have the same degree of satisfaction as the author’s previous book, the wonderful Calling Major Tom.
3.5 stars
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I enjoyed this gentle heart warming read. Jennifer wanted a fresh start and has started a new course at university. As her university halls of residence are not ready she takes up a room at Sunset Promenade retirement home. Here the residents and the students have to work through their differences and be prepared to learn from each other. Jenny is also faced with deciding who she is going to be.

She is working through her issues whilst the home is faced with closure. Rescue comes from an unusual source and Jenny is forced to face her ‘demons’.
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Some humorous moments in this easy read book. I enjoyed the relationships between the students and the residents of the nursing home but didn't feel they were entirely realistic. I'm not sure the mystery added much to the plot, but enjoyed this book as an easy read.
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Started off well... the idea of students and old people living together. There's some interesting ideas to talk about there.... liked the banter.
Unfortunately,as the story went on,I felt it got more and more ridiculous. That's not to say bad,just not my sort of humour.
I finished it. But only just.
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