3 out of 4 stars
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In the past, I used to think that the word “retirement” meant living a free life, about finally getting some peace and quiet in one’s remaining years. However, Jerry Travis’ book, Happy Valley, has given me a different perspective — or rather, the truth — of retirement in regards to the old generation.
The book tells of a story about Tom Sherman, a retired English teacher who lived in the fictional retirement community Happy Valley. Tom was an ordinary man who I soon discovered to be suffering from depression especially after losing his wife, Ellen. He lived alone in a house with his cat, Smoke.
When I read the first few pages of the book, I immediately felt a little uncomfortable. The writing style was quite new to me, so it took a while to get used to everything. The events that were happening became monotonous to me until bits of Tom's past started to introduce themselves into the story.
What I liked about the book was that Tom’s character was surprisingly diverse. The book’s premise showed his current life as a depressed, retired teacher who was trying to get by in life, and then it started to show his past little by little. I also liked how I learned a lot of things from this book, like what being a teacher is like among rowdy students, how a person feels as he types his first story out of impulse, and many others. Additionally, it gave me a lot of insights about the lives of the older generation because of Tom’s adventures back when he was young. I personally think that the author is very knowledgeable to be able to write all of these experiences into his story and I appreciate every bit of what I've learned from them.
All in all, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I deducted one star because sometimes I got confused by the events on whether they happened in the past or not. It didn't make it very easy for me to distinguish when it occurred and if it happened before or after a particular chapter. On the other hand, it was a good read and it had a pretty satisfying ending. By this, I would say that this book is definitely for those who would like to read stories about one's life up to his or her retirement years.
As the author quoted before the premise of his book: “Retirement as we know it today may not be available to future generations, who might have to continue working forever to pay off the debts of the present generation. That would also mean the end of retirement communities like the fictional Happy Valley in this novel.”
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