2019 Wisdom-Faulkner Award finalist
2020 Adult Fiction winner Texas Author Project
2020 Sarton Award Finalist
2020 Eric Hoffer Award Short List
A drunken mother makes childhood ugly. Jane runs away at sixteen, determined to leave her fraught upbringing in the rearview. Vowing never to return, she hitchhikes to California, right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, she looks good on paper: married, grad school, sober, but her carefully constructed life is crumbling. When Mama dies, Jane returns for the funeral, leaving her husband in the dark about her history. Seeing her childhood home and significant people from her youth catapults Jane back to the events that made her the woman she is. She faces down her past and the ghosts that shaped her family. A stunning discovery helps Jane see her problems through a new lens.
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2020 Shelf Unbound 2021 Notable 100 Best Indie Books
2020 Recommended by US Review of Books
A saga spanning five decades, I’ll Be Seeing You, explores one woman’s life, with and without alcohol to numb the pain.
Young Lauren knows she doesn’t want to be a ranch wife in Palo Pinto County, Texas. After she’s discovered by a modeling scout at the 1940 Fort Worth Stock Show Parade, she moves to Manhattan to begin her glamourous career. A setback ends her dream, and she drifts into alcohol dependence and promiscuity. By twenty-four, she’s been widowed and divorced, and has developed a pattern of fleeing her problems with geographical cures. Lauren’s last escape lands her in Austin, where, after ten chaotic years, she achieves lasting sobriety and starts a successful business, but happiness eludes her.
Fast forward to 1985. With a history of burning bridges and never looking back, Lauren is stunned when Brett, her third husband, resurfaces, wanting to reconcile after thirty-three years. The losses and regrets of the past engulf her, and she seeks the counsel of Jane, a long-time friend from AA. In the end, the choice is Lauren’s. What will she decide?
But things don’t go according to plan, and being as she’s a teenager, Lauren doesn’t always make wise choices. She is forced out of modeling, and begins a slide into years of promiscuity and alcoholism. She moves back and forth between Texas and New York, jumping from one job to another and leaving wrecked relationships in her wake, until she ends up in Austin, Texas. There she finds sobriety and starts her own successful business, but she doesn’t find peace. And then her third husband, Brett, comes looking for her.
Lauren was sometimes a difficult character to like, but I think that’s because I read the book from the perspective of middle age. I saw Lauren making terrible choices, I saw the train wreck coming, and I wanted to holler, “Don’t do it! It won’t go well!” But her story is a compelling one. How many of us haven’t wanted to buck the system as teenagers? Lauren did just that, and you have to admire that supreme teenage self-confidence, even as you’re shaking your head because you just know that’s not gonna go well.
I like the way the story crossed some lines with Imogene. Imogene was a free spirit and didn’t care about what society thought. In some instances, that was a good thing. She was an aficionado of jazz at a time when racial boundaries kept a lot of people out of the places where it might be played, and Lauren grew to be a lover of jazz as well. Imogen also crossed racial lines with her friendship with her housekeeper Vandine, and Vandine became a friend to Lauren as well. Sometimes it’s good when you don’t worry so much about what society will think.
The story also does a good job of illustrating the damage that a strained family relationship can do. When she left her home, Lauren burned bridges with her mother. That relationship was never mended, and her actions also negatively impacted her relationships with her brothers.
The book moves back and forth geographically, but it’s solidly tied to Texas, and Easley does an excellent job incorporating both Texas institutions like Neiman-Marcus and H-E-B and historical events into the story. I liked that, even though she had been itching to leave as a young girl, Lauren eventually calls Texas home again.
This is a compelling read. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a strong (and headstrong) main character, a Texas connection,a nd a good redemptive storyline.
A retired registered nurse with experience in both the cold, clinical operating room and the emotionally fraught world of psychiatric hospitals, Joanne lives on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes fiction about complicated, twentieth-century women.