Let’s Read: Time of My Life

Welcome to our virtual book club! Grab a cup of coffee and settle in. Here in our virtual world, you can put your feet up on the coffee table (or your desk, if you’re reading at work) and make yourself comfortable. No one will even know if you’ve combed your hair! I had originally planned to open up the book club on Oct. 9, but decided to post a little early in case anyone wants a head start.

Our pick this month was Time of My Life: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch. Leave your ideas, questions and thoughts on the book in the comments section. As an added bonus, Scotch is going to be stopping by and joining in our conversation!
About the book: In the novel, Scotch tackles the ‘what if’ questions that face the main character, Jillian Westfield, who finds herself asking about her old boyfriend and her career. Jillian seems to have it all (even the perfect organized closets straight out of Real Simple that I have come to accept I will never achieve). A massage releases her blocked chi and sends Jillian back in time seven years, allowing her to chart a new course, if she so desires.
So, let’s get talking! I pulled some questions from the reading group guide available on Random House’s Web site to help get the conversation started. You can answer these questions or leave your own thoughts in the comment section.
All of the women in this story struggle to find balance between their various roles in life. Do any of them manage this better than the others? How so? Can that perfect balance be achieved?
When Jillian goes back in time, she realizes that her memory of events may not be as clear as she thought. What does Jillian gain by looking clearly at the reality of events? Do you think you’ve ever skewed the past, for better or worse, to help you deal with the present?
Jillian has the chance to go back in time and see what would have happened if she had taken her life in another direction. How would your life be different if you had taken a different route? Do you ever wonder “What if?” and think about what might have been?
And, here is my question for you: What were your favorite lines of the book?
Comment away! Scotch is a New York Times best-selling author, a freelancer and a mom, so she’ll pop in when she has a chance.

15 thoughts on “Let’s Read: Time of My Life

  1. I think my favorite aspect of the book is the attention Jillian is able to pay to her friends when she returns to her previous life. I know for me often gets in the way and I am not nearly as good of a friend as I would like to be. Knowing the little things she could have done to make a difference let Jillian make a huge difference in her friend’s life.

    I liked how Jillian realized her memories weren’t quite as clear as she thought. I think that is probably true for all of us. You tend to remember the good and gloss past the bad (at least I do). I think seeing the reality helps Jillian realize how much she really has in her current life.

  2. I can relate to wanting to escape from the day-to-day routine, but I was a little surpised Jillian didn’t miss her daughter more right away. Did anyone else wonder about that?

    Also–I have a question for Allison, which character did you create first, Henry or Jackson and how did the characteristics of one shape the other one?

  3. Mindy, I agree – I really liked that in hindsight, Jillian was able to be a better friend. I liked this book a lot because I think a lot of women have those “road not taken” questions about their lives, and the book tackled it in a fresh way.

    My question is that I read about a movie adaptation of the book, and was wondering the status of it and Allison’s feelings about it. Thanks!

  4. I really liked the book, and was excited for Jillian when she went back. I wanted to know what would happen with her and Jack (Jack and Jill, it took me a while to catch on to that!), but then I got excited as she got closer and closer to Henry. I think she went back to realize that she is right where she needs to be. I think we all have the “what if” questions and she was able to go back and have hers answered. I started thinking about my “what ifs” and if I had the chance to go back, would I? I don’t think so! I do like that the changes created a better outcome for Megan and also helped Jillian’s relationship with her mother.

    I think it would be hard to go back like Jill did, and not tell everyone around you that you know what’s going to happen in seven years, so don’t do this, or don’t give up hope just yet. I wanted to yell with her when she wanted to tell her boss “But you and your husband will be happy!”

    I liked the book and although I changed my mind a few times as the directions in her life changed, I really liked the outcome too. I liked that she was able to end up almost where she started, but with a different perspective and better outlook of her situation.

  5. Sandy–I agree that I think it would be hard not to tell everyone what was going to happen. I wouldn’t be able to keep any secrets!

    One other question I have for Allison is how do you think Jillian gets up to speed with the changes in her new life, her relationship with her mother and her role in the new business, after she returns. I know the book ends before we see that, but I’m sure you have an idea in mind.

  6. Hi guys! Thanks for asking your questions! I’ll do my best to answer them and to check back later today/tonight as well.

    Beth: great question, and I’ve actually never been asked this before! First and foremost, I created Jillian in my mind. I really understood her from the get-go, so with her pretty well fleshed-out, I think – if memory serves – that Jackson was next, primarily because I wrote chronologically, and he entered the book in that second chapter. I definitely kept him in mind as I created Henry – they needed to be different enough that you could understand why Jillian could boomerang from one to the other but not flat-out caricatures of each other.

    Elizabeth – Thanks for asking this! I am THRILLED that the movie is being made. The producers have been so very generous in keeping me it the loop and occasionally soliciting my opinion that I have absolutely NO concerns about their choices. And even if I did, I still don’t know how upset I’d be if it were just abysmal. I often say that regardless of how the movie ends up, it doesn’t erase what I put down on the page, so…. Anyway, right now the draft of the screenplay is in, and from my understanding, that goes through a revision, and then they begin attaching the talent. Yay!

    Mindy – I think she gets up to speed in a natural way: picking up clues as to what’s happened (you see her doing that in those final few pages), taking more time to think about how things came together, as well as considering how her actions from the past could have changed things. Sort of like putting together a puzzle – one conclusion could lead to the next. Does that make sense?

  7. Hi Allison– Thank you for stopping by! Your answer to my question does make sense–thanks! Do you have a timeframe for when the movie will be released? I would imagine that it is a long process.

  8. I am sorry I’m late to the party! It has been one of those days. I loved the book! I wanted to ask Allison how long it took her to write the book and then how long it took to find a publisher. Also, I can’t figure out how she finds the time to get everything in–kids, writing, blogging, etc. Any tips for the rest of us?

  9. Mindy –
    I’m not sure of the exact timeframe. I think it was originally 2010, but now I bet it’s 2011. It IS loooooooooong process.

    You’re so sweet, thank you! I wrote the first book very quickly – about two months – but I was really consumed with it and was writing about 2k words every day. The revisions (w/my editor) probably took another two months. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write another book as quickly: this one just really spoke to me. Finding a publisher probably took a few weeks – I really can’t remember exactly – as it was my agent who was doing the wheeling and dealing.

    As far as juggling it all, I don’t know, I think I’m less busy than people think I am. I have fantastic child care, and I’m very well-organized. I also know my limits: I’m not someone who spents 24/7 with her kids OR on her job, so I maximize my focus when I’m doing these things: I give my kids 100% when I’m with them, then give my writing 100% when I’m working. I think that with some support from babysitters, family members, anyone – and a good organizational plan – most moms can be as efficient as I am! And still have time to play around on Twitter!

  10. Allison–I can’t believe you wrote the book in two months! That is amazing!

    Thank you so much for joining in on the blog! It was fun to have you. Thanks to everyone else who read the book and too part, too.

    I’ll definitely be watching for the moving and for your next book to be released. I’ll also be reading your blog–thanks for all the great tips you share on there!

  11. It may be too late to ask questions but I thought I would try. I wanted to ask Allison if she knew all along how the book would end or if she went back and forth just like Jillian did?

  12. I really liked this book. I found myself wondering throughout it how it was going to end. I mean, I was pretty sure of the moral of the story, but I kept wondering how it was all going to be explained – is this a dream? Does she have to find Henry and “rewrite” their story? I never saw it coming that she’d find Garland!

    I think everyone wonders about what could have been at some point in their lives, so this is a story that touches that part in all of us.

    I thought Jillian’s approach to her relationship with Jackson was really interesting – that SHE was the one responsible for everything and that she alone could change the outcome by melding herself to what he wanted. It took the reconnection with her mother for her to realize that she had lived her entire life for other people.

    I can’t believe you wrote it in 2 months! I am in awe. Can’t wait to see who is cast in the movie. I’m trying to think of who I picture as the characters…

  13. Hi guys,
    Sorry for the delay in responding.

    Sandy – I write without a map, so I didn’t ALWAYS know how it was going to end, BUT, I think by the time I got about halfway through, I had a very clear idea where Jillian was heading. It became increasingly obvious to me that Jack was sort of that guy whom you date in your 20s who wasn’t meant to be the guy you end up with, and then, from there, I just had to figure out why Henry WAS the one to whom she went back. That’s why I enjoy writing without a plan – I feel like things can unfold organically.

    Mindy – Hmmm, I’m trying to think. Not so much in this book but in my first book, YES. In fact, one of the main characters, Zach, wasn’t even a main character when I first envisioned it. But then I started writing and writing, and he just kept popping up, and voila, he was basically 1/3 of the book. In TOML, the characters DID make smaller decisions that surprised me, but nothing on a huge scale like w/Zach.

    Thanks again for having me!

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